Workplace Occupations and the Remploy Dispute

Seldom is it convincing to say that one single event can transform a wider situation. But in the case of the battle to stop the closure and sell off of the Remploy factories, this is the case. Specifically, if the threatened workers had occupied their factories, there is good reason to believe not only would have this created considerable leverage over the government but it would have also popularised the tactic of the workplace occupation in the battle to save jobs.

 

Since twenty seven of the 54 factories were earmarked for closure by the government by the end of the year, putting 1,700 disabled workers on the dole, and the remainder faced an uncertain future of either closure or being sold off, there has been an impressive battle fought by the workers and their unions, primarily the GMB and Unite.

 

It has involved strikes, high-profile demonstrations and one short occupation of the company’s HQ by less than ten workers. But there have been no workplace occupations. It is far from clear that the actions so far have created leverage over the company and, mostly importantly, the government.

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