MORE than 30 jobs are safe after Sunderland’s Remploy factory escaped the axe.
Remploy, which provides jobs for disabled people nationwide, is the country’s largest specialist employer of people with disabilities and health conditions.
The company is slashing its network after the Government decided to change the way it funds employment support for disabled people.
Plans have been unveiled to close 36 of its 54 factories, with potential compulsory redundancies of more than 1,700.
Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller said the Remploy board was proposing to close sites it believed would not be able to support themselves financially when Government funding was withdrawn.
The company employs 35 people – all of them disabled – at its corrugated packaging factory in Pallion.
Remploy has confirmed the factory is to remain open. A company statement said: “The board believes that the packaging business potentially could be commercially viable without Government subsidy and there are currently no proposals to close the Sunderland factory or for redundancies at the Sunderland factory.”
Ms Miller said Remploy will shortly begin consulting with unions on the proposed closure of the 36 factories.
In a written ministerial response to the Government’s review of disability employment, Ms Miller said savings would be used on “proven employment programmes” to benefit “many more” disabled people.
She said: “The Government will reduce its current subsidy to Remploy from the beginning of the new financial year so that we cease funding factories which make significant losses year after year and restrict funding to those factories which might have a prospect of a viable future without Government subsidy.”
Phil Davies, national officer of the GMB, said: “This decision to sack 1,752 people in 36 Remploy factories across the country is one of the worst decisions that this discredited Coalition Government has taken since coming to office.
“Thousands of disabled workers will now pay with their jobs for the incompetence of this government and other public sector bodies that did not take advantage of EU procurement rules that allow supported manufacturing jobs for disabled workers. These factories have lacked support for years and have never been properly loaded with enough work to make them economically viable.”