The government last night offered hope to thousands of disabled workers threatened by the closures of Remploy factories.
Work and pensions secretary Peter Hain received cheers from delegates at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth when he said: “No factory closures will take place without the agreement of government ministers.”
Remploy, a publicly funded body that provides jobs for disabled people, announced plans earlier this year to close 43 factories to focus on placing disabled people into mainstream employment.
Trade unions, led by the GMB, have campaigned hard against the closures, holding a month of protests and speaking out on the issue in Bournemouth. They brought a motion yesterday calling for more government buying of Remploy-made goods to save the factories.
Hain headed off a damaging showdown on the issue when he said: “I can confirm today that government policy is fully in line with this [motion].
“Both unions and [Remploy] management agree that winning more public procurement is crucial. I am working with my Cabinet colleagues to address this.”
He added that the government would provide £555m over five years to subsidise Remploy.
“There will be no compulsory redundancies for Remploy’s disabled workers. Salaries guaranteed. Full final salary pensions protected,” said Hain.
In June, Phil Davies, head of the Remploy union consortium, told Personnel Today that Remploy’s HR team, led by Anne Jessop, was one of the worst in the country.