In July I reported the welcome news that Remploy Edinburgh was among nine factories that could be saved following interest from an outside bidder.
However I was alarmed to learn of fears from trade unions representing Remploy staff that workers will not receive protection for their terms and conditions including their pensions.
Under regulations known as TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)), when a business is transferred from one owner to another the employees receive protection for their terms and conditions.
There is also Fair Deal pensions legislation which ensures that when public sector workers are transferred to the private sector they receive a pension of similar value to their existing one.
However, unions are concerned that the UK Government has exempted the prospective new owners of Remploy factories from these regulations meaning that employees could face changes to their conditions or worse, face redundancy. At the same time, staff are being kept in the dark over who the prospective new owners are.
By undermining employment protection in this way, the Government is treating the workers at Remploy with contempt and in a way that could have severe financial implications for workers. This has prompted staff at some Remploy factories to take the difficult decision to go on strike.
I wrote to the UK Government urging them to reconsider this move. Their response has stated that TUPE regulations should be respected but disappointingly that the Fair Deal Pension Policy will not apply. This is a huge blow to workers.
While safeguarding the future of the factory is hugely important, it cannot be at any price to the rights of the workers – they deserve better.