Remploy closures: Workers bid to buy factories

Remploy strike in Coventry Workers at Remploy in Coventry joined in strikes over factory closures last year

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Remploy workers are bidding to turn three factories into a social enterprise which they claim will save 200 disabled workers' jobs.

The group wants to buy Remploy automotive plants in Birmingham, Coventry and Derby which are being sold off by the government.

The factories make components and assemble parts for car manufacturers.

The group said if the bid is successful they plan to use surplus profits to help train disabled people.

Martin Hindle, from the GMB union, who is leading the bid, said: "Between the automotive group, sales exceeded £50m last year and we have an order book until 2017.

"We have 220 workers, about 98% of those are disabled and it's an important facility for them, getting them off benefits, giving them training and preparing them to work in the wider industry."

'Reduced rate'

Thirty-four Remploy factories closed last year because they were deemed to not be financially viable.

The factories in Birmingham, Coventry and Derby were kept open but the government said the sites would be marketed to potential buyers.

Government funding for all Remploy factories will be removed by September.

Mr Hindle said he did not know how much money the group would have to raise to buy the factories but hoped the government would sell them to the group at a "reduced rate."

"We've had discussions with some government organisations to get funding but there are bidders out there who are probably going to put money upfront to buy the business," he said.

"We're getting support from MPs to convince the minister for the disabled that it's a good idea and it's good for the community that they sell it to us at a reduced rate."

Mr Hindle said the plan had the backing of the TUC and GMB unions and the MP for Yardley, John Hemming.

A former Remploy factory in Bolton re-opened as a social enterprise employing a disabled workforce at the end of 2012.

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