Remploy workers fight on

Over a fortnight since their last 24-hour strike (22 October) workers in the Remploy factory in Springburn (Glasgow) are still waiting to find out the fate of their workplace.

At the time of the last strike RLink had been awarded ‘preferred bidder’ status for the Remploy factories in Springburn and Chesterfield.

The Springburn workers’ strike had been to demand clarification from RLink of its intentions and to oppose any attack on their terms and conditions. RLink had already announced its intention of withdrawing union recognition, axing 30 jobs, and cutting terms and conditions of employment in the Chesterfield factory.

Since then, RLink has announced that it has withdrawn its business plans for Springburn and Chesterfield in order to ‘re-evaluate’ them.

Workers fear that RLink, having been awarded ‘preferred bidder’ status, is now in the process of producing a new business plan which is even worse (for the workforce) than the original one.

And if RLink can withdraw and ‘re-evaluate’ its business plan, argue the workers, then other companies which expressed an interest in taking over the Springburn and Chesterfield sites should be allowed to put in fresh bids.

One of the Remploy employees summed up the mood in the factory:

“The workforce here is anxious, worried and desperate. The 90 days consultation on the future of the factory began eight months ago. We were due to be sold off before the end of October. But we are still completely in the dark.”

“The one meeting which we were due to have with RLink was cancelled at 24 hours notice. Last Thursday a ‘For Sale’ sign was put up here, but then taken down – management said that the sign had been a mistake.”

The strike of 22nd October also coincided with a meeting of the Remploy Task Force in the Scottish Parliament, attended by MSPs and the Tories’ Disability Minister Esther McVey.

Trade unions represented at the meeting called for any decision on the future of the remaining Remploy workplaces to be postponed for at least 18 months. But McVey refused to give any such commitment.

“The meeting was a complete waste of time,” is how one of the unions reps summed it up.

The Springburn factory is one of only a handful of Remploy factories which have not been shut down or sold off. As workers there continue their fight for jobs, they should be backed by all sections of the trade union movement.

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