Remploy battle for jobs
Reporter: Lobby Correspondent
Date published: 15 December 2011
THE fight to save the jobs of Oldham’s Remploy workers will reach Parliament today.
Set up after the Second World War, Remploy is the counry’s biggest employer of disabled people, and makes everything from school furniture, footwear and wheelchairs to biological suits.
A report in July, accepted by the Government, said Remploy’s structure is out of date and the money would be better spent elsewhere.
But the Government will be told today it would cost the Treasury less to keep the 54 sites open, including the Oldham’s Knott Lanes base, than to make the 4,000 workers redundant.
In a Westminster debate led by a group of Labour MPs, the Government will be criticised for its plans to end public funding for Remploy and told of how many local councils refused to give work to the factories.
Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher said: “People at the bases are employed and they are doing really useful jobs which they may not be able to undertake in an open market.
“These people could face a life without work if they lose their jobs and it is disgusting.”
Chief executive of disability rights charity RADAR, Liz Sayce, wrote the report which recommends concentrating funding on individuals through the existing Access to Work programme.
But Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams said: “I share workers’ concerns about the future of Remploy and the effect changes will have on the work it does in providing valuable employment and training experiences, particularly for people with disabilities who may find it difficult to find employment in the wider labour market.”