Remploy backs down over closures

Disabled workers employer Remploy backed down this week from plans to close
up to nine of its factories.

It was considering merging nine factories into three, in an attempt to
improve its financial situation, but in a meeting with unions last Thursday
agreed to keep the threatened plants open or build new ones if they had to be
closed.

Despite assurances from Remploy that there would be no compulsory
redundancies, the GMB union had threatened to ballot members on strike action
if the closures went ahead.

Phil Davies, national secretary for the union’s construction sector, said,
"This is a total U-turn, we are very pleased."

Remploy was considering the closures as a way of saving money following the
Government’s decision not to increase its annual grant of £94m, which has not
risen for four years.

Although future "mergers" will not be ruled out, Remploy said it will
be focusing on improving the effectiveness of factories instead. It will also
be stepping up efforts to place more disabled people in mainstream employment.

A DfEE spokeswoman said Remploy had been benefiting from an extra £3m over
two years pledged by Secretary of State David Blunkett in 1998.

She added that Remploy is a business, not a charity.

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