Consultation on the future of Remploy factories earmarked for closure has been extended by a month, it emerged this week.
Discussions on Remploy’s decision to close 32 of its factories and merge a further 11 with neighbouring sites will now continue until the end of September, due to the Department for Work and Pensions’ appointment of a mediator to assist in the process.
The government-funded company, which both directly employs disabled people and supports them into work, announced the closures plan in May.
Roger Poole, previously chair of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, the body which determines whether parades should go ahead, will chair meetings between management and unions GMB and Unite, who oppose Remploy’s plans.
A Remploy spokesperson said it was hoped Poole’s appointment would help to break down the “log jam” between the company and the unions and enable a resolution to be found.
Adam Jones, a worker at Remploy Birkenhead central cutting unit, one of the factories set to be merged, said that the extension was a mixed blessing. “In one way it’s good but in another way it means we don’t know where we are for longer,” he said.