Fears over future of factory voiced again

SHARROW INDUSTRIES    Sharrow Industries on the Parway Industrial Estate.     1 March 2010
SHARROW INDUSTRIES Sharrow Industries on the Parway Industrial Estate. 1 March 2010
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FEARS have again been expressed for the future of an award-winning factory which provides disabled people with jobs - a year after Sheffield Council pledged to do all it could to ensure it remained viable.

Sharrow Industries, off Sheffield Parkway which is run by the council’s maintenance contractor Kier, has announced redundancies due to a decline in work.

Staff manufactured kitchens, doors and windows for the Decent Homes council house modernisation programme which is now ending.

The factory began life in 1930 as Sheffield Workshops for the Blind and provides opportunities for 46 people with a range of disabilities.

Less than three years ago, Sharrow Industries won the Irwin Mitchell Manufacturing Award at the Sheffield Business Awards for significant improvement in productivity through the application of best practice in manufacturing management technique.

Staff fear up to 25 workers could be made redundant.

One unhappy worker said: “We have already had some employees taking voluntary redundancy and now we have had a meeting to tell us we are going to lose our jobs.

“We have already been told we must take a pay cut. Closure now looks like it will happen.

“We have all worked very hard making windows and kitchens and now we have not got a lot of work left. The management knew this would happen but nothing has happened to find us new work. ”

A Kier spokeswoman said: “As a result of the current economic downturn, which is affecting the construction industry both within the private and public sectors, combined with the fact that we are nearing completion of the Decent Homes work, Kier Sheffield is unfortunately faced with a potential redundancy situation at Sharrow Industries.

“We take our corporate responsibilities seriously and we recognise the important role Sharrow Industries has to play in the local community in Sheffield.

“In order to keep the operation viable, we have no option but to reduce staffing levels.

“As a result consultation with staff and trade unions has started.

“We will continue to work with all parties to try and mitigate the need for redundancies.”

She added: “This is a regrettable yet inevitable situation and we are giving staff as much help, information and support as possible at this difficult time.”

The company has not revealed how many staff will lose their jobs but said it is not closing the factory.

Brightside and Hillsborough MP David Blunkett said last year closure would be a “catastrophe” as workers would struggle to find new jobs. Talks on the site’s future were held. Council leader Paul Scriven ruled out closure and said efforts would be made to find work.