STAFF at Remploy Motherwell in Netherton will hold the first of two one-day strikes tomorrow (Thursday) after the Government announced last week the factory is to close.
Minister for disabled people Maria Miller told MPs the £320 million budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively than funding Remploy.
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.
The Government announced in March that Remploy was planning to close 36 of its 54 factories, including Motherwell, and Ms Miller stated that after a 90-day consultation it had been decided to cease subsidisation of the project completely.
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.”
The 22 Motherwell workers will be on strike outside the Netherhall Road factory from 7.30am to 2.45pm tomorrow and will hold another one-day strike on Thursday, July 26.
A source close to the staff said: “The overriding emotion is despair because many of the people in the factory believe they will never work again.
“There are people with learning difficulties and serious physical problems, and what employer is going to hire them during a recession when there are so many able-bodied people needing jobs?
“Some people will think there are plenty of benefits, but trust me there aren’t under this Tory Government.”
The Times understands the factory will close in October.
Motherwell and Wishaw MP Frank Roy said: “The Government clearly made its mind up from the start as 90 days is not adequate time to properly find alternatives to closure.
“The workers have been treated with contempt. They don’t want to go on the dole, but this disgrace of a Government is shirking its responsibility to these hard working people.
“There is not enough support in place or jobs in the economy to ensure these disabled workers get back into the workforce.”
Central Scotland list MSP Clare Adamson believes this decision is proof Scotland should handle its own affairs.
She said: “My concern is for the workers who are now facing an uncertain future. What support will be made available to them from the UK Government?
“This demonstrates why decisions should be made in Scotland. Despite the hard work of the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and unions to find practical solutions, the UK Government has crushed the hopes of Remploy workers.”