Labour Research July 2011


Blow to supported employment

The Remploy factories which mainly employ disabled workers have been issued a “death knell”, according to general union Unite.

A report commissioned by the government to look 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.

Such a move would effectively mean the closure of the 54 factories run by Remploy, the government’s disability employment business, within the next four years. Unite said the report was simply a blueprint to run down and close the factories. And if the recommendations are followed through it 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. However, if they are not viable, the 2,800 disabled people currently employed by Remploy would be made to seek work in mainstream employment. Unite argues that in the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, their chances of a job are almost nil.

General secretary, Len McCluskey, said: “The prospect for those who will have to battle it out for mainstream jobs is grim — it is a major blow for them.”

Remploy employs 4,000 people, including 2,800 with disabilities and has recently been subject to a voluntary redundancy programme which has meant 700 people leaving the organisation.