LATEST NEWS: Sunderland Remploy workers face the axe again

Remploy, Pallion Industrial Estate, Sunderland.
Remploy, Pallion Industrial Estate, Sunderland.
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DOZENS of disabled workers at a Sunderland factory are at risk of losing their jobs under fresh Remploy closure plans.

The Pallion Remploy packaging factory is among those proposed for closure under Government plans announced today.

There were celebrations as the Sunderland site escaped the axe in March this year after an earlier decision to reduce the Remploy network.

But now it is back on the block again after being deemed not commercially viable, with all the staff there and at associated business offices at risk of redundancy.

Remploy, which provides jobs for disabled people nationwide, is the country’s largest specialist employer of people with disabilities and health conditions.

Thirty-four factories have ceased operations this year and are in the process of closing, but the future of a further 18 sites remained unclear.

Some of the factories have the potential to move out of Government-funded support, but others are set to close, ministers said today.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “From today, Remploy will invite expressions of interest to take over the running of the remaining factories.

“Our priority throughout this process is to safeguard jobs, which is why we are offering a wage subsidy of up to £6,400 per disabled employee to encourage interested parties to come forward.

“We have also been clear from the start that we have protected the £320million budget for disability employment services.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne responded: “This is a shameful act from a contemptuous Government. A day after the Autumn Statement in which the claimant count was revised up, David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith (Work and Pensions Secretary) have thrown out of work almost 1,000 disabled workers.

“Iain Duncan Smith didn’t even have the nerve to come to Parliament to tell MPs face to face. Instead he chose to hide in his office while he was putting disabled workers out of a job. He ought to be ashamed of himself.”