Remploy announces new plan with fewer factory closures

Remploy has proposed to reduce the number of factories it originally earmarked for closure in a revised plan published yesterday.

The government-funded company’s final modernisation plan, which has been submitted to work and pensions secretary Peter Hain, said 17 factories would close, 15 fewer than originally proposed, while 11 others would be merged with neighbouring sites as originally planned.

This would mean 55 of Remploy’s 83 existing factories, which employ about 5,000 disabled people, will continue operating “subject to satisfactory progress” in reducing costs. The company said it would maintain a previous guarantee that no disabled employee would be made compulsorily redundant, but said it would introduce voluntary redundancy.

A Remploy spokesperson said the 55 factories would remain open as long as they increased sales. “The factories will be expected to be busier and there is an expected increase in public procurement that should lead to further cost saving,” she said.

GMB, the biggest union represented at Remploy, accused the company of “jumping the gun” with the proposals and reiterated Peter Hain’s recent pledge at the Labour conference that no factory closures would take place without ministerial agreement. GMB and fellow union Unite are due to publish a set of rival proposals tomorrow.

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