European law could have helped keep factories open

Glenis Willmott MEP condemns Remploy redundancies three weeks before Christmas.

An East Midlands MEP has condemned last week’s Government announcement of further closures of Remploy factories, which employs disabled workers, saying that existing EU procurement law could have been used to help keep the factories open.

In total 875 employees, including 682 disabled people across 15 Remploy factory sites and 34 CCTV sites, are now at risk of redundancy.  Only 3 out of 54 factories now have a future.

During August, 24 Remploy sites were closed and although the Government said workers would be helped to find alternative employment, the majority are now on the dole.

Glenis Willmott MEP said, “The Coalition Government would have us believe that there is no alternative to these closures, but the fact is that existing EU procurement law could have been used to help keep the factories open.”

“The 2004 Directive on public procurement allows some public contracts to be reserved for sheltered sites like Remploy.  This could have been used to help keep the sites viable and avoid forcing yet more people into unemployment.”

“It seems, however, that at a time of rising unemployment, and with welfare payments being cut, this Government would rather force disabled people, who want to work, onto the dole.”

“Less than 40 of the 1,200 people made redundant since August have found jobs.  The others are sitting at home isolated from the rest of society.”

The GMB union have pointed out that, while the Government commissioned Sayce Report recommended axing the sheltered sites, the report’s other recommendations to redirect funding into helping disabled people into mainstream employment are not being followed.

Glenis said: “There has been a total disregard of social enterprises and workers co-ops.  Little or no help has been given to the disabled workers themselves to set up such enterprises. Neither have the Remploy workers been given the support and opportunities advised by the Sayce Report that would help them to retrain and join the mainstream jobs market.”

Responding to arguments from disabled persons’ charities such as RADAR and Scope, that the Remploy factories essentially encouraged the segregation of disabled people from mainstream employment, Glenis Willmott added, “While I understand the arguments put forward by organisations such as RADAR, the fact is that the Remploy sites gave many disabled people a genuine opportunity to feel enabled to play a full part in society.”

“The alternative being offered by the Government is not support to be treated equally in mainstream employment, but redundancy notices for more than 2,700 workers.”


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