Clive and John Austin call for genuine consultation over plans to close Woolwich Remploy factory

Clive Efford MP and John Austin MP are calling for the 90 day consultation over the future of the Woolwich Remploy factory to be genuine.

Remploy, Britain’s largest employer of disabled workers, has announced that it wants to close 43 factories including the one in Woolwich. The company, which produces a range of manufactured goods, said it wanted to fund jobs for employees in mainstream environments instead.

The company, which employs 5,000 disabled staff in 83 factories, has announced 32 plants will close and 11 will merge with other sites.

Clive and John met with representatives of Remploy last week to make last minute representations on behalf of workers on the Woolwich site. They are pictured right, with Bob Warner, Chief Executive of Remploy. Clive visited the Remploy factory in January 2007 and met with the staff to hear their concerns.

Clive says, “Placing people in mainstream employment has to be welcomed, but there are a lot of people working in the Remploy factory at Woolwich who will find it impossible to find work in the open job market.” John adds “This is a very disappointing decision. We believe that once these unique job bases for people with disabilities and learning difficulties have gone they will never be replaced.”

The average length of employment for people that Remploy place in mainstream employment is three years. The average length of employment for people in the Woolwich Remploy factory is 17 years. Clive and John are suggesting retaining the Woolwich factory to provide a base to support people seeking to enter mainstream employment as a stepping stone. Anyone that finds the initial move difficult could then return until they are ready to move on again. They believe that placements in mainstream jobs would be more likely to work and those that cannot work anywhere else will still have a job at Remploy. Remploy themselves admit they do not track what happens to people once they leave the jobs they have placed them in.

Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon Clive asked that Remploy be made to demonstrate that they really will be able to find work for all of those currently working in the threatened units before they are closed. He called on Remploy to keep the factories in use as halfway houses for staff to be given work-place experience and training before looking for work in mainstream employment.

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