Remploy talks reach showdown

Remploy Factory, Banbeath Industrial Estate, Leven
Remploy Factory, Banbeath Industrial Estate, Leven

FIFE MPs are meeting with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith today (Wednesday) for more “crunch” talks about Remploy.

And the names of two possible buyers for both the Leven and Cowdenbeath factories will be handed to the former Conservative Party leader at the House of Commons summit.

Local MPs Lindsay Roy, Thomas Docherty and Gordon Brown have stepped up a campaign to save both sites over the past few weeks and as well as handing over the names they will demand Government financial support for a rescue plan.

In a joint statement the MPs suggested with a well-supported transition package, the factories can become not only financially viable but also a major manufacturing success story.

They unanimously agree current proposals for ‘an unfair and unrealistic privatisation’ will destroy the two 60-year-old factories.

The MPs plan to show how Government support of £1.6 million in the financial year ending in 2012 is being decimated to less than £140,000 a year across the coming three years.

The three MPs say a doubling of transitional help is needed from the UK and Scottish Governments to keep the factories open and argue it is impossible overnight to turn a loss of £1.6 million in 2011 and £800,000 in 2010 into immediate profitability.

The MPs added: “In most of the towns where Remploy privatisation has occurred, the factories have been closed and privatisation has led to either liquidation or a decimation of the original workforce.

“The government’s ‘one size fits all’ approach is particularly inappropriate given the huge potential to create a viable business in Fife.

“We now have two possible buyers whom we have talked to and who can be persuaded to make final bids as long as there is a realistic chance of viability.

“We have the chance of preventing manufacturing work moving out of Britain to Asia - but on Wednesday Mr Duncan Smith will have to announce he will do more.”

The MPs are proposing a unique three party system where the UK Government, the Scottish Government and Fife Council come together to back the factories.

They claim this makes sense as not only will it save the jobs of disabled workers it would prevent the ‘economic madness’ of allowing two factories ‘with full order books, a world-renowned product and the possibility of a 25 per cent rise in sales’ to go under.