MORE than 50 staff at Chesterfield Remploy factory went out on strike over plans for ‘partnership working’ with a private company.
Staff at the Sheffield Road site, in Whittington Moor, and fellow workers at Remploy’s Springburn factory in Glasgow are concerned about the possible link between Remploy Healthcare Group and a private company, Websters.
Members of the GMB and Unite trade unions voted to strike and picket lines were in operation at Chesterfield on Thursday from 5.30am.
A new company, R Healthcare, has been formed which is a partnership between Remploy and Websters - a large private orthotics firm.
Unions are concerned about a possible ‘two-tier’ pay system between their members and Websters staff, and non-disabled staff being brought in.
A Remploy spokesman said: “We have a 12 month partnership with R Healthcare to supply orthotic products - specialist shoes - to the NHS.
“As part of this partnership three apprentices, employed by R Healthcare, are working at Remploy’s Chesterfield factory helping to deliver this valuable contract. These young people are learning new skills and studying for NVQs.
“The three apprentices are non-disabled. Disabled candidates were interviewed but were not suitable or did not want to take the job. In addition, three R Healthcare staff are employed in customer service roles at the Chesterfield factory.
“R Healthcare is part of Websters, a long standing customer of Remploy’s Healthcare business. Remploy has no financial stake in the company. Discussions with the trade unions are ongoing.”