MOTHERWELL and Wishaw MP Frank Roy has accused the Government of being ‘heartless’ following the announcement the Remploy factory in Netherton will definitely close.
On Tuesday in the House of Commons minister for disabled people Maria Miller told MPs the £320 million budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.
The Government announced in March that Remploy was planning to close 36 of its 54 factories, including Netherton, and Ms Miller put the final nail in any hopes of saving them by stating that after a 90-day consultation it had been decided the loss making project could no longer be subsidised.
Ms Miller, who was heckled by opposition MPs, said: “This is difficult news. We are doing everything we can to ensure that Remploy workers will receive a comprehensive package of support and guidance to make the transition from Government-funded sheltered employment to mainstream jobs.”
Remploy workers are due to stage two 24-hour strikes in the coming weeks in protest at the March announcement and the GMB union said these will still go ahead.
The factories were established 66 years ago as part of the creation of the welfare state.
Workers are employed in enterprises that vary from furniture and packaging manufacturing to recycling electrical appliances and operating CCTV systems and control rooms.
Mr Roy said: “This government has a duty of care to these disabled workers but is choosing instead to abrogate this responsibility.
“There has been a Remploy factory in my constituency for fifty years and the workers have been treated with complete contempt by this Government.
“This is a blow to the disabled workers in my constituency who are being flung to wolves by this government. These workers don’t want to go on the dole they want to go to work, but this disgrace of a government is shirking their responsibility to these hard working people.
“When around one in fourteen people in our area are chasing every vacancy, then it is clearly the worst possible time for the government to make this heartless decision.
“The simple fact is that there is not adequate enough support in place or the jobs in the economy to ensure that these disabled workers get back into the workforce.
“And what is so appalling about this decision is the way the government has treated these workers, when they have the power in their hands to keep this factory open.
“The government clearly made their minds up from the very start to close these factories; as ninety days is not an adequate amount of time to properly find alternatives to closure.”