Request for re-think on Remploy

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SCOTLAND’S Enterprise Minister has urged the suspension of any further closure plans affecting Remploy premises.

The company’s Leven building is among those whose future is still under consideration.

Fergus Ewing’s plea followed a day of action by Remploy workers in Edinburgh last week, in which he also met the UK Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey.

The viability of the Leven premises, where the largely disabled workforce manufactures high-grade life jackets and other marine safety aids, is still being reviewed under stage two of a UK Government scheme.

Leven was among the sites thought to have a chance of attracting private investment, following a shift in Government policy.

It decided earlier this year to re-focus funding and move disabled workers into mainstream employment, resulting in the closure of a number of Remploy factories across Britain.

After his meeting, Mr Ewing said: “The continuation of work for Remploy staff has been a priority for the Scottish Government and our partners since it was put under threat in March.

“Since then, our stakeholder group has been doing everything it can to help save as many jobs as possible.

“I have asked the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to take a step back and look again at its plans to go ahead with a second round of closures.

“That will give us all time to consider the best way forward for the remaining Remploy factories and take on board the lessons that can be learned from phase one of the process.”

A suspension would allow the chance to gain further clarity on market capability, added Mr Ewing, while the Scottish Government wanted to ensure the best possible package of support was available to staff facing redundancy.

Central Fife MP Lindsay Roy has already called for an early decision on the future of Remploy’s Leven and Cowdenbeath sites, to end the workers’ anxiety, and has heavily criticised the new scheme, claiming only three per cent of redundant Remploy workers had found mainstream jobs.

Choice was being removed and the future made even harder for already disadvantaged people, he added.