Remploy workforce faces nervous wait

THE LONG-term future of Leven’s Remploy factory continues to hang in the balance.

Area MP Lindsay Roy has been told that an announcement on the future of the factory, along with that of 17 others throughout the UK, is expected to be made in the autumn.

Earlier this year, the Government acted on the Sayce Report, which recommended that disabled workers would be better served in mainstream employment rather than a supported environment such as Remploy.

It split the 54 Remploy factories into two groups, placing 36 in stage one and the remaining 18, including Leven and also Cowdenbeath, in stage two.

The former were assessed as having less chance of being viable in the future and, following a lengthy assessment, 27 are to close.

The remaining nine have submitted business plans, and organisations and individuals have been asked to make any formal bids for them by the end of August.

The stage two sites were reckoned to have a better chance of attracting private investment and their viability is currently being assessed.

On a visit to the Leven factory, Mr Roy met manager Gordon Reid and community union shop steward Colin Cuthbert, when he heard that the 29 workers were still very concerned over the uncertainty.

Remploy workers at Leven produce high quality lifejackets and other safety aids which are sold worldwide.

Mr Cuthbert said: “Workers are very anxious about losing their jobs and are also concerned that the factory might be taken over by a fly-by-night company.

“We appreciate the argument that disabled people should not have to go to work at a particular place, but it should be a question of choice and if people want a place like this, they should have the opportunity.

“We are in a better position than some of the other factories, but we see what is happening to our colleagues elsewhere and we will be in the same position unless we get a buyer.”

Mr Roy told the Mail that any closure of the Leven Remploy factory would have a “profound impact” on the workforce and also the surrounding local communities.

He claimed the Government was wrong to accept the Sayce recommendations that sheltered employment should cease.

The area MP said: “They will find it very difficult to find new work in mainstream employment, especially at a time of high unemployment, and will be forced on to benefits against their will.

“When people lose their jobs, they lose the dignity and self-respect their work provides, and that’s why it is vital we do all that we can to ensure there is future employment in Remploy Marine at Leven on a sound financial basis.”