Unions and management at Remploy, the organisation that provides work for disabled people, have been asked by the government to engage in “meaningful consultation” after a report highlighted an urgent need for the business to modernise.
A report by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), published earlier this month, set out possible solutions to the challenges facing the company – from ‘no change’ to the complete closure of the organisation’s network of factories.
Minister for disabled people, Anne McGuire, did not accept these were realistic options and has charged Remploy with quadrupling the number of jobs it finds for disabled people within the next five years.
Remploy said this will involve a transfer of resources from its loss-making manufacturing businesses to employment services, which last year found 4,300 jobs for disabled people.
Bob Warner, Remploy chief executive, said: “Each job in our manufacturing businesses costs an average £18,000 a year, compared with £3,500 to place a disabled person in a job in mainstream employment. That cannot be a good use of taxpayers’ money.
But Phil Davies, national officer for the GMB union, said: “We thank the minister for dumping the government’s expensive, but completely unacceptable, report. It has been a complete waste of money. But there seems to be no shortage of money to waste when it comes to trying to get rid of Remploy.”
Trade unions representing workers have passed a vote of no confidence in the board. The unions claim to have identified a “number of inappropriate and rash investments that have led the company to sustain massive losses, putting the jobs of thousands of disabled workers at risk”.
However, Warner said Remploy would be approaching consultations with the unions “with a blank sheet of paper”.
“[Consultations] will follow the direction indicated by the PwC report – that is a rebalancing of Remploy so that in five years time we will be finding 20,000 jobs each year in mainstream employment for disabled people,” he said.