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Cumbrian MP attacks 'cowardly' decision to close Remploy factory

A Cumbrian MP has described a Government decision to shut a factory for disabled workers as “cowardly, duplicitous and shameful”.

Jamie Reed photo
Jamie Reed

Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland, has called for the resignation of Maria Miller, Minister for the Disabled, over plans to shut 36 Remploy factories, including one at Cleator Moor.

The closure of the plant, on the Leconfield Industrial Estate, will see 14 disabled people lose their jobs and one non-disabled person.

Mr Reed revealed he had requested meetings with Ms Miller to discuss the issue but she had cancelled four times.

She had also rebuffed approaches to visit the Cleator Moor factory, at which Mr Reed had hoped to detail plans for a staff buyout of the business.

He said: “Since becoming an MP, I have witnessed incompetence in Government. Regrettably I have never encountered any minister from any Government to have demonstrated the level of breathtaking incompetence, cowardice or ignorance shown by you towards my constituents with regard to this announcement.”

The factory manufactures specialist protection suits for the police and military.

But the Government says it is not financially viable.

Ms Miller said the Remploy board was proposing to close the sites by the end of the year because they were unlikely to achieve independent financial viability.

She pledged that the £320 million budget for disability employment had been protected, adding that the money will be spent more effectively.

Savings made from the closures would be used to fund “proven employment programmes” to benefit “many more” disabled people, she added.

The minister said she had assessed “very carefully” the needs of Remploy workers, as well as the 6.9 million disabled people of working age who could benefit from greater specialist employment support.

She said: “The Government will reduce its current subsidy to Remploy from the beginning of the new financial year so that we cease funding factories which make significant losses year after year and restrict funding to those factories which might have a prospect of a viable future without Government subsidy.”

Nationally, 1,752 people will be made redundant – 1,518 are disabled.

Union leaders at all of the affected sites will meet to discuss what action they can take on March 26 and 27.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said: “This is a barbaric decision. The Government has sunk to a new low by sacking over 1,000 disabled workers.

“In the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, these workers prospects of finding work are almost zero. "

Have your say

I worked for Remploy from 2007 until 2011 so I can speak about the Remploy closures with inside knowledge. The factories can be made viable if politicians local and national have the will to make this happen. Unfortunately this country has a history of closing and selling off manufacturing whereas our partners in Europe especially Germany have retained a strong manufacturing base which has been hugely beneficial to exports.
The Remploy workforce is skilled in making many products. Extensive training is given to anyone wishing to better themselves. The Remploy factories are not institutions as some politicians like to think, they are work places where loyal workers want to put in a days work just like any other workplace. Unlike the House of Lords where most of the participants either fall asleep or don't attend but still get paid. I did not want to drag my comments down to this level but Government should look at its own back door first.
Remploy must be leaner, but not by reducing the workers. Central overheads need to be reduced and the factories need greater autonomy. I don't believe enough thought has been given to make the Remploy model work. I have spent over 40 years running factories so I speak from experience.
The figures given by Marie Miller don't add up. Very few of the workers can expect to get jobs so will have no choice but to go onto benefits. Empty factories will need to have security and there will be other hidden costs.
Lastly if the Coalition can spend billions each year on foreign aid, some of which will find its way into the pockets of corrupt governments, surely they can support Remploy until each of the factories is properly evaluated with involvement from the workforce so that the correct decision can be made. The government themselves could be putting more work into the factories.

Posted by John Ferguson on 19 March 2012 at 06:11

The Labour Government didn't saddle the country with £1 trillion debt.
This was a bankers bailout.(50% of Tory funding comes from the banks)
Otherwise are we to blame Labour for every other country's debts?
The Tories achieved 33% of the vote from a 68% turnout. That in a time when Brown was the most unpopular leader for decades.
The British people are instinctively liberal.
The Tories only aim is to push wages down whilst maximising share dividends.
The Tories also changes their term to 5 years straight away when elected. Also making it take a 55% vote against them to make a vote of no confidence.
They allowed a man who is currently being investigated by Scotland Yard (Coulson) into the heart of government, whilst Cameron hung around with more criminal suspects in his private time.
The Tories did not put any of their policies before the British people.
If as they claim, the cuts were necessary, then why did both Cameron and Osborne vote with the Labour governments spending plans whilst in oppposition?
This is a coalition of corruption.
There is no other way a decent society could look at it.
We all contribute.
We all deserve something back.
To state that unemployment is in some way beneficial makes us look as idiotic as the neo-rightists standing for the Republican nomination in the US.

Posted by Kieran McGhee on 15 March 2012 at 11:31

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