China orders 'could save Remploy jobs'

PLANS to shed jobs at Remploy factories in South Yorkshire could be avoided if government contracts were redirected, according to a leading trade unionist.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 9:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 1:36 pm

Delegates at the TUC conference in Brighton were told Remploy intend to axe 266 disabled workers’ jobs across Yorkshire and Humberside as part of a cost cutting exercise which will see the closure of 43 factories nationwide.

But Phil Davies, National Secretary of the GMB Union who is acting as Secretary of the Remploy Consortium of Trade Unions, hit out at the proposals.

He insists the jobs could be saved by using Remploy factories to fulfil millions of pounds worth of orders for the military and NHS currently being sent to China.

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He said: “There are 150m worth of contracts for nurses and forces uniforms in the pipeline.

“These contracts are currently being supplied from China.

“The unions are urging that the contracts be returned to Remploy to keep disabled workers in jobs.”

He pointed out that in Barnsley, where the Remploy Factory will close at a loss of 38 jobs, almost one in four disabled people of working age are unemployed.

In Sheffield one in every 6.5 disabled people of working age is without a job.

The ratio in Rotherham is one in every 5.5 and in Doncaster one in every 5.4 disabled people of working age cannot find employment.

Remploy said its needs to cut back on local jobs to provide jobs for disabled people living elsewhere.

It says its factory in Pogmoor, Barnsley, which employs 38 disabled people to make furniture, loses 1 million a year.

Bosses at Remploy want to close the site and relocate staff to its site in Brightside Lane, Sheffield.

But Mr Davies said cutting back on Remploy jobs could only make the situation worse.

“To argue that Yorkshire and Humberside factories have to go to achieve jobs for other disabled people in this country is pure nonsense.”

A rally protesting at the job losses passed through Sheffield on Friday.