Remploy’s HR chief has vowed to wipe the slate clean with the organisation’s trade unions and work towards securing the future of its manufacturing sites.
Last week, unions postponed the threat of strike action following work and pensions secretary Peter Hain’s “categorical guarantee” at the Labour Party conference that there would be no compulsory redundancies and that wages and final salary pensions of Remploy workers would be protected.
The publicly funded body, which provides jobs for disabled people, had wanted to close 32 of its 83 factories and shift production from another 11. Hain said no factory closures would take place without the agreement of government ministers, and that he was working to provide more public sector contracts for Remploy.
The decision follows a high-profile campaign by unions against the closures and the threat to force a politically damaging vote on the plans at the conference.
Anne Jessopp, executive director of HR at Remploy, said she welcomed Hain’s announcement and the chance to sit down with the unions to discuss modernisation proposals.
“Remploy’s future is too important to disabled people for management to get hung up on who said what about whom,” she said. “We must now look at how we can work together to move the organisation forward.”
However, Jessopp defended Remploy’s tactics in the face of a storm of public criticism and the union’s strike threat.
“The management didn’t feel it was appropriate to have discussions with unions in public. We have been communicating behind the scenes with interested parties, including the unions, on how to move forward,” she added.
Remploy is set to have a series of meetings with ministers and unions over the next three weeks, with a proposal on the organisation’s future to be finalised by 24 October.