Unite union fears on Port Talbot and Porth Remploy sites

The factories at Aberdare, Abertillery, Merthyr, Swansea and Wrexham will shut with the loss of 189 jobs

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There are fears for the future of two further Remploy factories after the UK government announced five plants were to close in Wales.

Factories employing disabled people at Aberdare, Abertillery, Merthyr, Swansea and Wrexham will lose 189 jobs.

Roy Whitney of Unite the union said sites in Port Talbot and Porth would come under the spotlight in the autumn.

The UK government says the £320m budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.

The Welsh factories are among 27 Remploy sites which will close.

Two other sites which were at risk - Bridgend and Croespenmaen in Caerphilly county - will remain open.

Mr Whitney, who has been working at Remploy for 29 years, said even though the Port Talbot and Porth sites were not earmarked for closure, the UK government would look at them in the autumn.

Start Quote

Again now we have this uncertainty hanging over the disabled people in Remploy, which we've had hanging over us for the last four years and it's not doing morale any good at all”

End Quote Roy Whitney Remploy worker and Unite official

"We were led to believe that they would not look at our situation until at least April 2013, so it's not too good for those sites (Port Talbot and Porth), said Mr Whitney.

"Again now we have this uncertainty hanging over the disabled people in Remploy, which we've had hanging over us for the last four years and it's not doing morale any good at all.

"There's a lot of people in this country who don't really understand how Remploy work.

"We hear things, such as, we work in a ghetto and we should be out in mainstream employment - Remploy is mainstream employment.

"Don't forget, we are not only disabled people working in Remploy, we have fit people working in Remploy."

The closure of five of Wales' seven Remploy factories is a "hammer blow" for workers, says the Welsh government.

'Difficult news'

Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith also criticised the move, saying it would place further economic hardships on disabled people in Wales.

Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller also announced on Tuesday a further consultation on the future of nine other Remploy factories across the UK.

"This is difficult news. We are doing everything we can to ensure that Remploy workers will receive a comprehensive package of support and guidance to make the transition from government-funded sheltered employment to mainstream jobs," she said.

Union sources said the 27 factories will close between August and mid-December.

Workers at Remploy's 54 factories are due to stage two 24-hour strikes in the coming weeks in protest at an announcement by the UK government earlier this year of closures.

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