Remploy HR director hits back at claims she should resign over her handling of the factory closure announcements

Remploy’s HR director has hit back at union jibes that she should resign over the way her team handled the announcement of factory closures.

Last week the GMB union, which represents the majority of workers at Remploy, accused the HR team of mismanaging the announcement by using DVDs and failing to answer questions.

About 2,500 mainly disabled staff will be affected when 32 manufacturing sites are closed and 11 are merged with others. But Anne Jessopp, executive director of HR at Remploy, said the union’s reaction was “very disappointing”.

“We would rather the union wasn’t making these kinds of comments, but it’s our job to get on with things,” she said.

Jessopp rejected the GMB’s accusations of mismanagement by the HR team.

“We communicated with employees using [sign language] DVDs, on-site signers, face-to-face, and with leaflets and letters,” she told Personnel Today. “Then we took staff into smaller groups and answered any questions they had.”

She said professional counsellors were on hand to provide support, as well as senior managers, and a staff helpline had been set up.

Jessopp guaranteed there would be no compulsory redundancies among disabled staff, who would have the option to work for local employers on their existing terms and conditions.

Last week the GMB voted for industrial action at Remploy’s factories. Jessopp described the decision as “premature”, and said it would have a detrimental effect on the organisation’s customers. A meeting between management and the union consortium is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday).

Former Remploy HR director hits out

The decision to close factories has been criticised by Remploy’s former HR director Ray Fletcher. In a letter to the Guardian last week, Fletcher said the closure would “narrow the options” open to disabled people who want to enter the workplace.

Fletcher is now HR director at the Unite ‘super-union’ – which also represents Remploy workers – so perhaps should declare a vested interest.

This story was first published in Personnel Today