30 disabled staff to lose their jobs as Remploy stores face the axe

THIRTY disabled workers face redundancy under plans to axe a factory in Huddersfield.

The Remploy factory at Waterloo
The Remploy factory at Waterloo

THIRTY disabled workers face redundancy under plans to axe a factory in Huddersfield.

The Government is proposing to close the Remploy factory at Tandem Industrial Estate, Waterloo, because it is “not commercially viable”.

Employees at the site, which makes car interior trim for manufacturers including Vauxhall and Toyota, are now at risk of compulsory redundancy.

Remploy has begun 90-day consultation with staff and is inviting expressions of interest from would-be buyers.

The workers at Waterloo are among hundreds of disabled people who face losing their jobs under plans to axe 15 Remploy factories across the country.

Ministers announced earlier this year that a number of Remploy factories would close, arguing that the £320m budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.

Thirty-four factories have ceased operations since then, but the future of a further 18 sites, including the Huddersfield factory, remained unclear until this latest announcement.

Remploy said it had considered the viability of the 18 sites and how they might move out of Government control.

It said the automotive business operating from factories in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby was viable, with a strong and established customer base.

Remploy will now move to market this business and does not propose to make any of the employees redundant.

But the automotive textiles operation at Huddersfield is among the remaining 15 sites slated for closure. All staff at Waterloo are now at risk of redundancy.

A spokesman for Remploy said: “There has been a period of analysis and investigation to see if there was any possibility of the factories standing alone outside government control. For a number of them, including Huddersfield, that is not going to be the case.”

But he said the Government was inviting expressions of interest for the whole of the factory business, parts of the business or the assets.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said: “This is really bad news. I have been a regular visitor to Remploy over the years and the employees are people of real ability, but they will find it very difficult to find work in mainstream employment, particularly in this present climate.

“I had been led to believe that the contracts we had in Huddersfield and the very good relationship we had with car manufacturers would have secured the factory a further lease of life, but that seems not to be.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “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.”

The Government is following the advice of disability expert Liz Sayce to use the budget for disabled employment services more effectively to get more disabled people into mainstream jobs.

“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,” said the spokesman.

Phil Davies, of the GMB union, said: “This is devastating news for the disabled workers in Remploy and gives the lie to the Chancellor’s claim in his Autumn Statement that the vulnerable would be taken care of by the Government.”

 
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