FIFE’S three Labour MPs said on Monday that maintaining the jobs of local employees at the Remploy factories in Leven and Cowdenbeath is “the important challenge” in preparation for 2013.
Gordon Brown, Lindsay Roy and Thomas Docherty, who have campaigned diligently on behalf of the 60-plus Fife workforce, spoke of their “anger and sadness” that they had been told of potential closure just before Christmas.
Criticising the Department of Work and Pensions for a disgraceful ‘Scrooge-like’ treatment of the employees, the MPs said they would do everything in their power to find and guarantee greater job security for the men and women being served with redundancy notices after working for Remploy for many years.
Their campaign already has the support of Fife MSPs Helen Eadie, Jayne Baxter and Claire Baker.
The Labour trio said: “Loyal workers have been cruelly discarded, even when they have orders on the books of the factories and a specialist expertise that is recognised across the textile industry.
“Remploy factories are local institutions valued by Fife people, with workforces that have loyally served the community against all odds over many decades.”
The three spoke out as the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey, announced the Government would welcome a new owner for the Remploy operation in Fife.
In her letter to the MPs, Ms McVey said the redundancy notices to be sent to all the employees was because Remploy was not financially viable.
Prospective buyers of the business are being offered a three-year tapering wage subsidy totalling £6400 for each eligible disabled member of staff by the Department of Work and Pensions, while Remploy will also fund professional advice and support worth up to £10,000 for employee-led bids.
However, Mr Brown, Mr Roy and Mr Docherty, who are asking Fife Council for help and are already in talks with union representatives and the workforce, said the Government would have to do more and improve its assistance package if an alternative buyer was to be found.
They will campaign in Fife, Scotland and in Westminster for the Remploy workers, they said.