Remploy closures may leave disabled Scots jobless

Remploy closures could cost 137 disabled Scots their jobs. Picture: PA
Remploy closures could cost 137 disabled Scots their jobs. Picture: PA
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ABOUT 140 disabled workers in Scotland face redundancy after five further Remploy factories were earmarked for closure.

The factories in Leven, ­Cowdenbeath, Stirling, Dundee and Clydebank are among nine closures across the UK.

The Scottish factories employed 154 people, including 137 disabled workers.

The lay-offs were described as a “cruel abandonment” of disabled workers by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, an MP in Fife, while the Scottish Government’s enterprise minister Fergus Ewing said the workers affected have been “living under the threat of redundancy for well over a year”.

UK minister for the disabled, Esther McVey, said jobs for about 70 per cent of the 515 disabled employees in Remploy’s other factories and CCTV sites in the UK could be saved after they attracted bids.

But sites in Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland will also close, affecting – along with the Scottish factories – a total of 284 employees, including 234 disabled workers.

Employees affected by possible redundancy will be supported by an £8 million package to help them move into mainstream work, Ms McVey said.

But Mr Brown said: “The factories at Leven and Cowdenbeath have a full order book and could easily expand their workload given the demand for their product. I understand there was at least one bid to take over the facilities and I want to know what happened to that bid.”

The coalition government announced last year it would implement the recommendations of the a review into the firm’s future to withdraw funding from Remploy factories and redirect it, to enable more disabled people to find jobs, adding that £50m was going into funding “failing” factories.

Remploy had been trying to transfer the remaining seven businesses, in 18 factories, and 7 CCTV contracts, affecting more than 1,000 employees, but Ms McVey said no suitable offers had been received for them.

Mr Ewing said: “I have urged UK ministers to think again about the process they had undertaken and to consider the impact on the employees, many of whom have worked in Remploy all their adult lives.”

The closures also came under fire from union leaders.

Jerry Nelson, national officer of the GMB union, said: This is devastating news but not untypical from this uncaring government who cannot be relied on to protect the vulnerable.

“There is an alternative. These workers could be put back to work making uniforms for our troops, police and nurses, and furniture for our schools like they did before the work was outsourced to China.”