Trade unions’ anger at Government decision to shut Remploy factories

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TWO of three Remploy factories for disabled people in the area are among 36 of the company’s sites which are to close with the loss of 1,752 jobs nationwide.

The Government has decided the factories at Chesterfield, which employs 54 disabled and 10 able-bodied staff, and Worksop, where five disabled and two able-bodied people work, are to be axed.

Sheffield’s Brightside Lane factory, which makes furniture and has 92 disabled and six able-bodied workers, is one of just 18 sites spared.

The move has been condemned by the GMB and Unite trade unions, which represent the affected staff.

Phil Davies, GMB national secretary for Remploy workers, said, “This decision to sack 1,752 people in 36 Remploy factories across the country is one of the worst decisions this discredited coalition government has taken since coming to office.”

Kevin Hepworth, Unite national officer, added: “GMB and the other trade unions in Remploy will not stand by and allow this attack to go unanswered.”

The trade unions are meeting later this month to decide on a ‘plan of action’ to fight the closures.

Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, said the affected sites were not financially-viable and could close by the end of the year.

She said: “The Government will reduce its current subsidy to Remploy from the beginning of the new financial year so that we cease funding factories which make significant losses year after year, and restrict funding to those factories which might have a prospect of a viable future without government subsidy.”

The Government said the factories lost £68.3 million last year and added it planned to use the cash for other schemes to help disabled people into work.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: “Quite simply this is the wrong plan at the wrong time.

“Unemployment is going through the roof. Back-to-work schemes are sinking under the weight of spiralling unemployment.”

He accused the Conservatives of breaking a promise made in 2007 to protect Remploy and find additional work for the company.