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Remploy Closures Despicable

Announcing 875 Remploy redundancies three weeks before Christmas is despicable says GMB.

There is an alternative as workers could be put back to work making uniforms for our troops, police and nurses and furniture for our schools like they did before the work was outsourced to China.

GMB responded to the announcement that 875 employees in total, including 682 disabled people across 15 Remploy factory sites and in 34 CCTV sites are at risk of redundancy.

Only 3 out of 54 factories at Aberdare, Aberdeen, Abertillery, Acton, Ashington, Barking, Barrow, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Bridgend, Bristol, Burnley, Chesterfield, Cleator Moor, Clydebank, Coventry, Cowdenbeath, Croespenmaen, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Heywood, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leicester, Leven, Manchester, Merthyr Tydfil, Motherwell, Neath Port Talbot, Newcastle, North London, North Staffordshire, Norwich, Oldham, Penzance, Pontefract, Poole, Porth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton, Spennymoor, Springburn, Stirling, Sunderland, Swansea, Wigan, Worksop and Wrexham have a future. See company statement on what is to happen to 15 not closed in round one.

During August 24 Remploy sites were closed as follows: Aberdare, Abertillery, Acton, Ashington, Barking, Birkenhead, Bolton, Cleator Moor, Gateshead, Lanarkshire, London (Haringay), Manchester, Merthyr Tydfill, Newcastle, Oldham, Penzance, Pontefract, Preston, Southampton, Spennymoor, Swansea, Wigan, Worksop and Wrexham. The workers are now on the dole.

Leeds closed last Friday 30 Nov. Leicester and Stoke-on-Trent factories are due to close later in the year.

Phil Davies GMB National Secretary said “This is devastating news but not untypical from this uncaring government who cannot be relied on to protect the vulnerable. To make this announcement three weeks before Christmas is despicable.

Less that 40 of the 1,200 people made redundant in August and since have found jobs. The others are sitting at home isolated from the rest of society.

GMB are still putting together a dossier on the failure of the government to sell off as a going concern any of the first 36 factories to close. They are now adding another 15 factories adding another 700 disabled workers to the list of the unemployed.

The Sayce Report is not being followed as there is a total disregard of social enterprises and workers co-ops. Little or no help has been given to the disabled workers themselves to set up such enterprises. Neither have the disabled people been given the support and opportunities to retrain to get mainstream jobs they were promised in the Sayce Report.  Only the Welsh Assembly has made real attempts to do this. Neither the UK or Scottish Governments have done anything to help of support these workers sacked as an act of public policy.

There is an alternative. These workers could be put back to work making uniforms for our troops, police and nurses and furniture for our schools like they did before the work was outsourced to China.

Sheltered workshops are allowed under EU procurement rules and can successfully  keep disabled workers gainfully employed if supported by public contracts. Instead this government used the Sayce Report and RADAR, Mind, Mencap, Scope, RNID and Leonard Cheshire as “Trojan horses” to close the Remploy factories.

Radar characterised Remploy as some out of date solution with attempts to stigmatise it as a form of ghettoisation and linking it to old institutional forms. You could use the same argument against staging the Paralympic games.

These organizations started with an aspiration we all share where all disabled people are treated in an equal way in employment and that ideal state may lead to a completely different view of what support is required.

This is what happens when disabled charities make “the best” the enemy of the “good”. They started with resolutions that will not be achieved in the short run. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and they wento through the years sticking to that ignoring real needs, and they end in the grotesque chaos of disabled charities – disabled charities – used as Trojan horses to enable redundancy notices for more than 2,700 disabled workers in 54 locations across the UK.

The Tories knew what they were doing using these "useful idiots" who are party to this despicable announcement.”

End

Contact:  Phil Davies Consortium Secretary on 07850 966465phil.davies@gmb.org.uk.

Kevin Hepworth Consortium Chair on 07976 265630kevin.hepworth@unitetheunion.org.

Les Woodward National Convenor on 07977 436251 les.woodward@ntlworld.comor James Stribley, Remploy Yorkshire 07525 136396.

Notes to editors

The 18 remaining factories and plans for them – Remploy statement

1. The Automotive business operating from factories in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby is a viable business with a strong and established customer base. It has the potential to move out of Government control as a going concern. Remploy will now move to market this business. Remploy does not propose to make any of the employees employed in this business redundant.

2. The Automotive Textiles operation at Huddersfield is not commercially viable and the factory there is proposed for closure. All staff in this business are now at risk of redundancy.

3. The Furniture business based in Neath, Sheffield and Blackburn has the potential to be commercially viable but currently makes significant losses. To achieve commercial viability it is likely that the business would require significant restructuring and downsizing of its operations. Remploy will market this business as a prospective going concern but, recognising that the current trading position of the business may ultimately result in no viable bids being received and that there may therefore be consequential redundancies and factory closures. All staff in this business are now at risk of redundancy.

4. The Marine Textiles business (based at Leven and Cowdenbeath) has an established market position and might attract commercial interest. Remploy Management will discuss any potential opportunities for a commercial exit with its current distributor and any other parties who express an interest. However the business currently makes significant losses and is not saleable currently as a going concern. The employees of the Marine Textiles business are therefore at risk of redundancy.

5. The CCTV business has the potential to become a viable business or series of businesses and successfully move out of Government control. Remploy will now discuss with the 27 organisations who have let contracts to Remploy their intentions and the opportunity to market this business and its 27 contracts as a going concern. If the business can be sold it may result in potential TUPE transfers. In the event that it cannot be sold compulsory redundancies will be made and all employees in the CCTV business are therefore at risk of redundancy.

6. In addition to Automotive Textiles, 3 other Remploy businesses are not commercially viable or have any realistic prospect of being sold as going concerns. These are E-Cycle (based at Porth and Heywood), Frontline Textiles (based at Dundee, Stirling and Clydebank) and Packaging (based at Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland). These factories are now proposed for closure with all the staff working

A DWP spokesperson said:

"From today, Remploy will invite expressions of interest to take over the running of the remaining factories.  Our priority throughout this process is to safeguard jobs, which is why we are offering a wage subsidy of up to £6,400 per disabled employee to encourage interested parties to come forward.

"We have also been clear from the start that we have protected the £320m budget for disability employment services.  But we are following the advice of disability expert Liz Sayce, to use the money more effectively to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs - the same as everyone else.

"All disabled employees affected by the changes will be guaranteed tailored support from an £8m package, including a Personal Case Worker, to help with the transition into mainstream employment."

Further information

*       At risk of redundancy from the stage 2 process are 875 employees in total, including 682 disabled people across 15 Remploy factory sites and in 34 CCTV sites.

*       The factory businesses lost around £50m last year.

*       Despite the tough economic climate, Remploy Employment Services found 50,000 jobs for disabled and disadvantaged people since 2010 - many with similar disabilities to those working in Remploy factories.

<<WMS - Disability Employment 6.12.12.DOC>> <<WMS - Disability Employment 6.12.12.pdf>>

John Stevenson | Chief Press Officer | Department for Work and Pensions |

Press Office, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NA

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