More disabled workers face losing jobs under Remploy closures

 

Hundreds more disabled workers at Remploy factories are at risk of losing their jobs under fresh closure plans, the Government announced today.

A further 875 employees, including 682 disabled people, have been told they face compulsory redundancy.

Ministers announced earlier this year that a number of Remploy factories would close, arguing that the budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.

Thirty-four factories have ceased operations since then and are in the process of closing, but the future of a further 18 sites remained unclear.

Some of the factories have the potential to move out of Government-funded support, but others are set to close, ministers said today.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "From today, Remploy will invite expressions of interest to take over the running of the remaining factories.

"Our priority throughout this process is to safeguard jobs, which is why we are offering a wage subsidy of up to £6,400 per disabled employee to encourage interested parties to come forward.

"We have also been clear from the start that we have protected the £320 million budget for disability employment services.

"But we are following the advice of disability expert Liz Sayce to use the money more effectively to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs - the same as everyone else.

"All disabled employees affected by the changes will be guaranteed tailored support from an £8 million package, including a personal case worker, to help with the transition into mainstream employment."

Phil Davies of the GMB union said: "This is devastating news for the disabled workers in Remploy and gives the lie to the Chancellor's claim in his Autumn Statement yesterday that the vulnerable would be taken care of by the Government."

 
Workers at risk of redundancy are in 15 Remploy factories, with three automotive businesses not included.

Remploy said it had considered the viability of the remaining businesses and how they might move out of Government control.

The company said the automotive business operating from factories in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby was viable, with a strong and established customer base.

Remploy will now move to market this business and does not propose to make any of the employees redundant.

The automotive textiles operation at Huddersfield is not commercially viable and the factory is proposed for closure. All staff in this business are now at risk of redundancy.

The furniture business based in Neath, Sheffield and Blackburn has the potential to be commercially viable but currently makes significant losses, said Remploy.

To achieve commercial viability it is likely that the business would require significant restructuring and downsizing of its operations.

"Remploy will market this business as a prospective going concern but, recognising that the current trading position of the business may ultimately result in no viable bids being received and that there may therefore be consequential redundancies and factory closures. All staff in this business are now at risk of redundancy," said a statement.

"The marine textiles business, based at Leven and Cowdenbeath, has an established market position and might attract commercial interest. Remploy management will discuss any potential opportunities for a commercial exit with its current distributor and any other parties who express an interest. However the business currently makes significant losses and is not saleable currently as a going concern. The employees of the marine textiles business are therefore at risk of redundancy.

"The CCTV business has the potential to become a viable business or series of businesses and successfully move out of Government control. Remploy will now discuss with the 27 organisations who have let contracts to Remploy their intentions and the opportunity to market this business and its 27 contracts as a going concern.

"In the event that it cannot be sold compulsory redundancies will be made and all employees in the CCTV business are therefore at risk of redundancy."

In addition to automotive textiles, three other Remploy businesses are not commercially viable or have any realistic prospect of being sold as going concerns - E-Cycle based at Porth and Heywood, frontline textiles based at Dundee, Stirling and Clydebank and packaging based at Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland.

These factories are now proposed for closure with all the staff there and at associated business offices at risk of redundancy.

PA

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