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Workers at Port Talbot's Remploy factory could face redundancy

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: December 07, 2012

Peter Hain

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WORKERS at a Port Talbot factory are under threat of compulsory redundancy.

Around 140 Remploy workers at the Baglan factory and at the Porth site in the Rhondda could be out of work after the UK Government asked for "expressions of interest" from firms willing to take on the factories which employ people with disabilities.

Neath MP Peter Hain has labelled the news as a "real body blow for area" while Aberavon's MP and AM Hywel Francis and David Rees have both called for urgent talks. The Baglan plant, which employs around 70 people, and the Porth site are the last of two Remploy factories in Wales after a series of closures.

More than 40 disabled people lost their jobs when the Fforestfach furniture factory in Swansea closed at the end of August. The Bridgend site will close in March.

Remploy said its furniture business based at Baglan had the potential to be commercially viable, but currently makes significant losses.

In a statement, it said: "To achieve commercial viability it is likely that the business would require significant restructuring and downsizing of its operations.

"Remploy will market this business as a prospective going concern but recognising that the current trading position of the business may ultimately result in no viable bids being received and that there may therefore be consequential redundancies and factory closures.

"All staff in this business are now at risk of redundancy."

A statement from the Welsh Government said it has asked the Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey to "devolve the funding, assets, land, buildings and contracts" of the two factories in Wales in order to create a viable social enterprise.

"Welsh Ministers have opposed factory closures from the start," said the statement.

"We have made it clear we do not believe that closing the factories will improve the lives of disabled people and we will be discussing our objections to DWP's announcement as a matter of urgency." Miss McVey said the announcement was made just weeks before Christmas as "it was only right for the people to know as soon as I knew".

She added: "Nothing will happen today, there will be a three month consultation period.

"People will put in bids, interests and ideas. After that there will be another one month consultation."

She added that all employees affected by the changes will be supported by an £8 million support package which will help them with their CV's and help them get back into work.

In a joint statement Aberavon's MP and AM, Hywel Francis and David Rees, said: "We support the call for management and unions at Remploy to back Welsh Government Minister, Leighton Andrews in his call for the devolution of all Remploy assets, budgets, buildings and land for the two Welsh Remploy plants at Baglan and Porth in the Rhondda. We will shortly be meeting unions and management to urge them to work together on a social enterprise at Baglan in partnership with the Welsh Government and the Wales Cooperative Centre."

Mr Hain said they were "throwing disabled workers to the wolves".

He said: "There is never a good time for an announcement like this but coming just days before Christmas and so soon after the Tata Steel announcement this is a real body blow for the area."

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  • Neathboy234  |  December 07 2012, 7:53PM

    Hadoken939485 i thought u might have come here to say how sorry u were for calling hard people such a cruel name, no chance of that is there. Thankfully someone has had the decency to remove your offensive post. And BTW i'm more middle than left, I'm part of the home owning, share owning class that Maggie was so keen on.

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  • Neathboy234  |  December 07 2012, 6:47PM

    Hadoken939485 not a very nice thing to call people, but what do we expect from someone like yourself. U even give right wings a bad name, or is it the norm for your lot.

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  • tellyon  |  December 07 2012, 3:20PM

    Never mind. At least the billionairs are doing well. Good to know that the people with all the money and power are looking after the people that REALLY matter. Say after me children: "We're all in it together." And again... with feeling: "We're ALL in it together!" Lovely! Now children, how about a few verses of: "There is no alternative." That's the spirit! Merry Christmas one and all.

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  • muld00ns  |  December 07 2012, 2:20PM

    I don't think I am wrong but I am sure it was Peter Hain that started the ball rolling for the end of Remploy before he resigned as the DWP Minister. I was due to meet him with a Union Rep back when the first load of factories were being closed. He ended up cancelling that meeting. My office in Swansea was relocated to Leeds with no substantial reason. As for the Welsh Assembly they did nothing then so why should they now. I contact Plaid's then leader Ieuan Wyn Jones and he didn't even have the decency to reply. The Unions should have acted a lot earlier than now as the writing was on the wall back in 2008. I feel sorry for a lot of these workers and watching BBC Breakfast this morning and the reasoning for the Disable Minister for these closures is shocking. There are NO jobs out there for the majority of people let alone disable workers. So all the money they are ring fencing for disabled employment services is futile until there are jobs out there. When I mean jobs, meaningful ones as well. The Minister mentioned these people those people have found employment. I wonder if these jobs are on par to work they had when they worked at Remploy just given any old job to hit numbers and targets!?

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  • Neathboy234  |  December 07 2012, 12:21PM

    It has been said that control over these sites may be devolved to the Welsh Government. Down at the bay they want that to happen, but at the moment it's up to Westminster if that happens. That's the problem we have in Wales, real power is taken not given(Jock Ewing once said that to Bobby in an episode of Dallas, it's always stuck in my mind)

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  • tellyon  |  December 07 2012, 12:00PM

    Disgusting. The Welsh Assembly should grow a pair and fight for these to be taken over by the Welsh govt..... they took that airport over didn't they? Then again maybe our Labour assembly members are just crying crocodile tears? Labour closed more Remploy factories than the Tories, they sacked over 2000 when they were in power in Westminster. How disgusting these establishment politicians are playing political smoke and mirrors with the lives of the disabled... Gutless lot. We need a new workers party that will stand for the 99%.

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  • Neathboy234  |  December 07 2012, 11:45AM

    VISIONSKI i can be a good thing, but it's a shame that we have to talk about these poor men and women possibly losing their jobs. Of all the bed things that have happened during the past few years the treatment of these hard working people is right up there at the top of the list. It's a shameful day for the UK.

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  • VISIONSKI  |  December 07 2012, 11:36AM

    Neathboy234, debate is a wonderful thing don`t you think! nice talking with you.

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  • Neathboy234  |  December 07 2012, 11:22AM

    VISIONSKI i guess your just one of these people who's selective in supporting the underdog. BTW i'm realistic enough to know if i lost my job at my age i'd struggle to find work, that's why i support these remploy workers so much. Sure i might find work contracting away from home. It's good money for sure, but working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and getting drunk back in the guesthouse isn't what i want at my time of life. Give me min wage and i'm happy to sit at home on the sofa with the wife every night. money isn't everything

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  • VISIONSKI  |  December 07 2012, 11:08AM

    Neathboy 234 fair play it didn`t take you long, guess we struck a nerve as for the rest of your comments what alot of toss, self praise is no recommendation.

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