Saturday, 15 October 2011

Save Remploy

The network of government-subsidised supported employment factories operating under the Remploy banner are under threat of closure. The consultation on the Sayce Review comes to an end on Monday. The workers and their trades unions have been collecting signatures on a petition as part of their campaign to save the factories. (You can 'like' their facebook page here).

I paid a visit to the Porth factory yesterday. Many of the workers there would love to work in mainstream employment. However, they know the jobs climate isn't good in the valleys and they know plenty of former colleagues who lost their jobs in the Trefforest factory three years ago who are now on benefits. If their Remploy factory closes, they know they are unlikely to get another job.

There is a need for supported employment. There is also a need for services to help people with disabilities get in to and stay in mainstream employment. In some places, there are very few jobs.

With job losses in Wales rising fast, Welsh government action should be taken to protect the 400 plus jobs in the Welsh Remploy factories. I have put the case for the devolution of the Remploy budget, asking the First Minister to make respresentations to Westminster and for a commitment to saving the jobs should the devolution request be granted.

With political will and creativity, for example, by looking at how public procurement contracts could be granted by using article 19 of the EU directive, not only to protect existing Remploy jobs but to expand supported employment opportunities in Wales. I was told yesterday that the Porth factory would be a viable business if they had just one local authority's IT contracts. Remploy has a future in Wales if our government wants it.

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