Fact Service June 2011

Issue 25

Curtain to fall on Remploy factories?

The latest report on employment opportunities for disabled people is a blueprint to close more than 50 Remploy plants, the Unite general union said.

A government-commissioned report looking at supported employment has called for disabled people to be treated as part of the mainstream labour force and for them no longer to be employed in sheltered workshops.

Unite said that the small print makes it clear that there will be no more public funding for the enterprise business side of Remploy which has 54 factories across the UK. This would be "a major blow" to some of the most disadvantaged people in society.

The intention is for the plants to become either social enterprises or co-operatives, but if they are not viable, the 2,800 disabled people currently employed by Remploy would be returned to mainstream employment. In the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, their chances of a proper job are almost nil.

Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, said the report was a blueprint to run-down and close the Remploy factories.

"The prospect for those who will have to battle it out for mainstream jobs is grim — it is a major blow for them. What will happen is that disabled people will be at the back of the employment queue and when they do succeed in finding work, too often, they are bullied and forced out of work. It is a vicious revolving door," he said.