Tom Keighley

Government throws more doubt on Remploy

The Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, has announced the Government’s intent to dispose of Remploy businesses by October 2013, creating fears of closures.

In a speech to the House of Commons, the Minister said the Government had decided to “exit” the operating of Stage 2 factories and businesses.

The move will put nearly 900 Remploy employees at risk of compulsory redundancy, as the Government have invited expressions of interest for the businesses and associated assets.

To encourage bids, the Department for Work and Pensions will offer a three year wage subsidy of £6,400 per disabled member of staff.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary called it a “shameful act from a contemptuous government.” He said: “Iain Duncan Smith didn’t even have the nerve to come to Parliament to tell MPs face to face. Instead he chose to hide in his office while he was putting disabled workers out of a job. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

“Iain Duncan Smith is the minister who said that Remploy workers did nothing better than sit around drinking cups of coffee. Now, in a final act of contempt he has sacked almost all of them, despite knowing that 90% of those who lost their jobs in the last closures are still out of work.

“We say loud and clear this round of closures must stop. David Cameron’s government is failing to get disabled workers back into jobs. The Work Programme is worse than doing nothing. This closure plan must stop until there’s a plan that works to get disabled workers back into jobs.”

Remploy said its furniture business based in Neath, Sheffield and Blackburn, has the potential to be commercially viable, but would need significant restructuring in order.

Similarly, its CCTV business was said to be capable of moving out of Government control. This business, along with the Automotive operations, will now be marketed to potential buyers.

Any successful sale or transfer of ownership could mean employees would be transferred under TUPE regulations.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Many of the disabled workers who will lose their job as a result of these factory closures have little or no chance of finding alternative employment. Of the first 1,000 employees to be made redundant during recent factory closures, just 35 have subsequently found work.

“This is a heartless decision by a government that has shown very little interest in protecting the livelihoods of severely disabled people who need support both in and out of work. The TUC will continue to support the work of Remploy unions in opposing any more closure and redundancies.”

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