BREAKING NEWS: Disabled workers’ jobs at risk as Barking Remploy factory earmarked for closure

Barking’s Remploy factory, which has provided work to disabled people for 42 years, has been earmarked for closure putting around 60 jobs at risk.

The plan forms part of Remploy’s proposals to shut down 36 of its 54 state-subsidised factories across the UK, with potential compulsory redundancies of more than 1,700 disabled workers.

Yesterday Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller said the sites could be closed by the end of the year as they were not financially viable.

Government funding should instead be re-invested into other schemes to help disabled people find work, she explained.

Julie Haynes, a Unite shop steward at Barking Remploy, an electronics factory in Long Reach Road, said was shocked and devastated at the news:

“It’s very sad to hear they’ve made this decision,” she told the Post. “There are around 60 employees here who would lose their jobs and struggle to find new ones. It’s hard enough for non-disabled people to find work at the moment, so what chance have disabled people got?

“A lot of us will end up on benefits and cost the government money that way. I know the factories are not financially viable right now, but as a union we’ve suggested many ways to save money, including cutting down on expensive managers.”

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Ms Haynes said Unite and the GMB union would continue to fight to keep the factories open. “We certainly haven’t given up,” she added.

Yesterday’s announcement followed an independent review conducted by Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, into the way in which the government spends its disability employment budget.

Her report recommended that government funding should focus on support for individuals, rather than subsidising factory businesses.

The Department for Work and Pensions said all Remploy factories were loss-making and last year lost �68.3m.

Last year Remploy union members collected more than 100,000 signatures protesting against the Sayce review recommendations and the issue was debated in parliament.