Callous closure of Remploy factories is entirely avoidable using existing EU law

Glenis Willmott, Labour’s Leader in Europe and MEP for the East Midlands, has written to Iain Duncan Smith to express her anger at the Government’s closure 36 Remploy sites – rather than making use of an EU law designed to keep these factories viable.

She said, “The callous closure of Remploy factories is entirely avoidable if the Government would just make use of an existing EU law.

“Thanks to campaigning by Labour MEPs in 2004, the EU law on public contracts recognises the importance of sheltered employment sites like Remploy.

“The Government could have made use of this law and encouraged public authorities to send more work to Remploy. That would have been the most sustainable solution for all involved.

“Instead, they have simply chosen to call the factories ‘non-viable’ and close them down, axing nearly 1,800 jobs. It is a heartless and short-sighted decision that will not only cost us all more in the long run in benefits and lost taxes – but it will also have a huge cost in terms of the dignity of the workers who have lost their jobs.”

Labour MEPs campaigned in 2004 to add a provision to the Procurement Directive, which allowed public authorities to reserve contracts for sheltered employment workshops like Remploy.

Despite this, Trade Unions representing Remploy workers have said that the factories were operating at just 50% of capacity. A survey by GMB last year showed that fewer than half of UK public authorities were providing contracts for Remploy as permitted under the Directive.

Glenis said, “As a former GMB organiser representing Remploy employees, I know that the workers want to work, not be left on benefits. To do that, they need the specific support and expertise only available at Remploy, which could now be lost if the factories are to close.

“But Remploy is also about much more than just work – it is also a social and community network. Many of those made redundant will feel that they are losing not only their jobs, but also their families.

“It is not too late for the Government to think again about these callous closures. Remploy is absolutely irreplaceable – and EU law already provides a way to secure the future of the factories.”

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