Remploy factory closures: Hundreds more face redundancy
Hundreds more workers at factories which provide employment for disabled people are at risk of losing their jobs, the government has announced.
A further 875 Remploy employees, including 682 disabled people, face compulsory redundancy.
In July ministers said 27 Remploy factories would close, arguing the budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.
Thirty-four factories have ceased operations since then.
The sites are in the process of closing, but the future of a further 18 factories remained unclear.
Some of the factories have the potential to move out of government-funded support, but others are set to close, ministers said.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman 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."
He added all disabled employees affected by the changes will be guaranteed "tailored support" from an £8m package, including a personal case worker, to help them move into mainstream employment.
Phil Davies, of the GMB union, called the timing of the announcement three weeks before Christmas "despicable".
He said: "This is devastating news for the disabled workers in Remploy and gives the lie to the chancellor's claim in his Autumn Statement yesterday that the vulnerable would be taken care of by the government."
Around the UK:
- Workers at risk of redundancy are in 15 Remploy factories, with three automotive businesses in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby not included
- The automotive textiles operation at Huddersfield is "not commercially viable" and the factory is proposed for closure
- Staff at the furniture business based in Neath, Sheffield and Blackburn, the marine textiles business, based at Leven and Cowdenbeath and the CCTV business are at risk of redundancy if a buyer cannot be found
- Three other Remploy businesses will be closed because they are not commercially viable and do not have any realistic prospect of being sold as going concerns - E-Cycle based at Porth and Heywood, front-line textiles based at Dundee, Stirling and Clydebank and packaging based at Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne called the move a "shameful act from a contemptuous government".
He said: "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."
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."
He said of the first 1,000 employees to be made redundant during recent factory closures, just 35 had 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," he added.
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey said Unite members at those factories that were the first to face closure did not receive support to get into work or training while potential buyers had complained about the bidding process.
He said: "We call on ministers to stop the closure programme immediately until there is a review of the shambles of selling-off Remploy sites to commercial interests, and we can see evidence of the much heralded £8m support package for those disabled workers already sacked."