Remploy staff shocked at jobs news but ready to fight again

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

WORKERS say they are prepared to launch a fresh battle to protect Wrexham’s Remploy factory.

Bombshell news came on Tuesday afternoon that the company, which provides work for disabled people, was seeking a round of voluntary redundancies at its 54 UK plants.

Bosses blamed the move on the affects of the recession and falling sales, but said there would be no forced job losses.

Included in the programme is the Wrexham factory in Railway Road where about 60 people manufacture a range of high-class furniture.

One worker who has been at the plant for a number of years, but does not wish to be named, said workers were ready to fight to save their jobs.

It would be the second battle in less than four years after a campaign was launched in 2007 to save the factory from closure.

The worker said: “The announcement came as a big shock to everyone here.

“Until we find out more information about what is happening there is a lot of trepidation among the workforce.

“In 2007, when there was a plan to close this factory, we started a big campaign to save it.

“That lasted for 11 months but we won in the end and it stayed open.

“I know the company has said there will be no factory closures or compulsory redundancies, but if there is any hint that this factory is to close we will do the same again.

“People here generally do not want to take voluntary redundancy because many of them are in their 40s and 50s and all disabled in some way.

“They know this means it would be very difficult to get another job.”

He added: “If the factory closed it would be a massive blow to this part of Wrexham.

“The people here do some sterling work.”

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas has demanded to be told the full background to Remploy’s announcement.

In a letter sent yesterday to Maria Miller, the Government minister responsible for the company, he said: “I have a close interest in Remploy which has a factory in my constituency.

“I was, therefore, hugely disappointed to see the announcement of a scheme of voluntary redundancy made by Remploy today prior to any notification to MPs by your department.

“As I write, I have received no detail from your department or from Remploy.

“I know that my office will be receiving enquiries as I write about the future of the Wrexham site and of individual employees.”

“I regret that this announcement will cause enormous distress.

“Can you please give me full information about Remploy’s intentions?”

In 2007, the last Labour Government announced that the Wrexham Remploy plant was to be axed.

This sparked a massive campaign by workers and supporters, which included a protest petition bearing 15,000 names.

A statement released by Remploy on Tuesday blamed the news on the “effects of the current economic climate”.

See full story in the Leader

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