Commenting on the UK Government’s decision to close the Remploy plants in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Motherwell, Clare Adamson, a member of the Education and Culture Committee and SNP MSP for Central Scotland who visited Remploy Motherwell in October last year and responded to the consultation on its future, said she was “extremely disappointed” with the UK’s decision.
The disability minister Maria Miller MP, announced the closures in a written statement to Westminster. Ms Miller said that the Remploy company would be wound up, leading to the closure of 36 out its 54 factories across the UK, which provide employment for disabled people. Over 1,000 workers with disabilities are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the closures. Over 110 jobs are expected to be lost in Scotland.
The announcement in a written parliamentary answer, provoked anger from opposition MPs who accused the Coalition government of trying to “sneak” the news out.
The furious reaction from opposition MPS forced Ms Miller to make a statement to the House of Commons. Speaking to the House last night, she said that the closures were necessary in order to divert funding from the loss-making business and into job creation schemes for disabled people.
The Remploy company, which is wholly owned by the UK government, was set up during WW2 to provide employment opportunities for people who had suffered wartime injuries which had left them disabled. It opened its first factory in Bridgend in Wales in 1946. Last year Remploy accounted for a fifth of the Government’s £320 million budget for specialist disability employment services, but the company returned a loss of £68.3 million.
Coalition ministers say that it costs the taxpayer £25,000 annually to keep one Remploy factory worker in their job, but that some employees are being paid to do nothing due to a lack of orders. Mrs Miller said that as a result of the closures, an extra £15 million would be freed up to spend on job schemes for disabled people.
Trade unions have condemned the closure programme. Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, said: “This is a barbaric decision. The government has sunk to a new low by sacking over 1,000 disabled workers.”
Phil Davies, national officer of the GMB union, called the decision “one of the worst this discredited government has taken since coming to office”.
Ms Adamson said: “The SNP is extremely disappointed with the way the UK Government has come to these conclusions and with the decision they have come to. I will be in contact with the UK Minister to seek reassurances and to find out what support they will be making available to those affected.
“I was hugely impressed with the work done at Remploy Netherton in Motherwell and the difference supported employment can make to people’s lives.
“Some people affected may find the transition to other workplaces easy to make but for many it will be very difficult and the UK government must support them properly.
“It should be noted that Clydebank, Cowdenbeath, Dundee and Stirling Remploy units are not facing the threat of immediate closure but have been labelled with a ‘potentially viable’ status so it is important there is clarity for all employees as soon as possible.”