Nine Remploy factories – including the last five in Scotland – are to close, with 234 people with disabilities facing redundancy as a result.
The factories to close are: Frontline Textiles and Marine Textiles, which are based at Dundee, Stirling, Clydebank, Leven and Cowdenbeath and Remploy’s Packaging business, based at Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland.
These closures follow a commercial process where Remploy invited bids from individuals and organisations interested in buying all or parts of its remaining businesses and 18 sites proposed for closure. No viable bids were received for Frontline Textiles, Marine Textiles or Packaging.
All 284 employees at the sites – including 234 with disabilities – are now under threat of redundancy.
However, there was better news for the other 9 Remploy sites. The E-Cycle, Automotive and Furniture and CCTV businesses have all received interest from parties looking to take them over, and negotiations are on-going.
First concern for employees
In a statement to parliament, Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey (pictured), said: “Our first concern must be Remploy employees… all employees affected [by this announcement] will be supported by the £8 million tailored package of support to help them move into mainstream work.”
McVey added that some of the Remploy sites that have already closed have been re-opened as social enterprises or new businesses and have re-employed former Remploy workers.
Of those former Remploy employees with disabilities who have already been made redundant, currently 1,103 are working with personal case workers to find another job, while 328 are on Work Choice undertaking training and other activities aimed at moving them closer to employment. Meanwhile, 400 are in work, McVey added.
'Cruel & callous decision'
However, trade union Unite has hit out against the “cruel and callous” decision. Unite regional officer Kevin Hepworth said: “This cruel announcement continues the unrelenting attacks on disabled workers. This latest statement is dressed up by promises and funding that no one can realistically access.
"It is totally the wrong time to close these factories – the better option would be to create community hubs helping the unemployed disabled and other disadvantaged unemployed people.
"The government has turned its back on the disabled in Scotland by closing the last five Remploy sites there.
“Yet again, this coalition lives up to its reputation for callousness and cruelty to some of the most vulnerable people who want to make a contribution to society by working.
“They are being thrown onto the scrap heap when unemployment remains very high, especially if you have a disability.
“Unite will continue to give every assistance possible to its Remploy members now and in the future.”