Remploy workers lobby meeting with Minister

Remploy, Banbeath Industrial Estate, Leven.
Remploy, Banbeath Industrial Estate, Leven.

WORKERS from Leven’s Remploy factory joined around 200 colleagues in a day of strike action on Monday, over the future of the threatened firm.

Employees with the Unite union lobbied a meeting of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, between a Scottish Government task force on Remploy and the recently-appointed Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey.

The Remploy staff – who, in Leven, manufacture high-standard life jackets and other marine safety apparatus – conveyed their concerns to Enterprise Minister, Fergus Ewing, who called for a re-think on further Remploy closures after one-to-one talks with Ms McVey and a meeting with stakeholders.

The local premises are seeking a decision from the Department of Work and Pensions on its viability and its chances of attracting private investment, following a controversial overhaul of the Remploy empire and a number of factory shut-downs around the UK.

The UK Government opted earlier this year to act on the Sayce Report, which recommended a re-focus on spending and switching disabled workers to mainstream employment, rather than in a supported environment, such as Remploy.

Leven and Cowdenbeath employees believe their product is still commercially viable but the wait for a ruling on their future goes on.

Unite believes the Scottish Government can take a different path from the UK Government and deliver another action plan to preserve Remploy jobs.

Regional officer Dougie Maguire said it would be difficult for workers with disabilities to find mainstream work with unemployment in Scotland so high, while the loss of their jobs, could, in many cases, mean the end of their working life.

In Leven, many of the 30-or-so workforce had been there a long time, had made a valuable contribution, and the work they produced was of high quality, said Mr Maguire.

For many employees with disabilties, their work encompassed a social life, day-to-day contact, and was a way of life rather than just a job.

Glenrothes and Central Fife MP Lindsay Roy claimed figures revealed only three per cent of those already made redundant from Remploy had found mainstream jobs, which suggested the scheme had “all the makings of a total disaster”.

A Remploy spokesman said there would be no comment on Monday’s strike.