Westminster wields jobs axe on disabled but Scots Remploy factories survive
THREE of Scotland’s four Remploy factories are set to be saved, despite the UK government withdrawing funding from the scheme which has provided employment for disabled people since the end of Second World War.
Yesterday, it emerged that 1,421 jobs are at risk across Britain as a result of the Westminster decision that will see the closure of half of Remploy’s 54 factories over the next few months.
The UK government confirmed the closure of 27 loss-making factories, an announcement that was condemned by opposition parties and unions.
The list of factories facing the axe included one at Netherton, near Motherwell, which employs 22 people.
There was, however, some hope for 89 working at Remploy factories in Edinburgh, Springburn and Aberdeen, which are among nine Remploy units that have attracted bids from private enterprises aiming to keep them running as going concerns.
Over the past five years, Remploy has received £555 million of public money. Yesterday, Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, told MPs the £320m budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.
In March, Remploy announced 36 of its 54 factories were at risk of closure following the withdrawal of funding. A KPMG report had identified 18 as viable without government cash.
But yesterday, it emerged that the 36 earmarked for closure had been reduced to 27 with the news that nine factories, including the three in Scotland, could be spared when Ms Miller revealed discussions with potential bidders were taking place.
Liverpool-based Cook with Care business, which sees disabled people help provide meals for people in social care, could also be saved.
The 27 factories are expected to close between August and mid-December. Remploy workers are due to stage two 24-hour strikes in protest.
The enterprises undertaken by disabled people range from furniture and packaging manufacturing to recycling electrical appliances.
GMB union officials yesterday confirmed that the strikes would go ahead.
In Scotland, the relief that there was hope for three factories was tinged with disappointment at the fate of the Motherwell unit.
Enterprise minister Fergus Ewing said: “It is welcome news that full bids are being sought for the three Remploy factories in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Springburn.
“The continuation of jobs for Remploy staff has been a priority since they were put under threat in March. We will continue to work with DWP and the bidders and are hopeful of a positive future for these sites.
“The situation in Netherton is disappointing, and I know this will be a difficult time for the employees there.”
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