Disabled workers accuse Minister over jobs

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Disability Minister Esther McVey was yesterday accused of not giving enough support to disabled workers made redundant by the closure of Remploy factories.

The accusation from a former employee came in the wake of Thursday’s announcement that more Remploy factories, including those in Sheffield and Huddersfield, risked closure.

The previous nationwide closure programme has included the loss of a Remploy factory at Millshaw, Leeds, which closed last Friday with the loss of 60 jobs, plus another at Pontefract which closed in the summer with another 28 jobs going.

Ms McVey insisted her department had been giving “specialist support” to help those already made redundant find new jobs and had “completely reordered” what they were doing to help.

She said the number of disabled people to have found new work had “quadrupled” recently.

Referring specifically to a closure in Oldham, she said there had been 109 people working there with disabilities, with 69 coming forward to say they would like support, and 19 getting new jobs.

But Talit Karim, who was made redundant from Remploy earlier this year, said he had not been given any help.

He said: “I don’t where they get that idea from. There was 115 people when I worked at Remploy Oldham – I actually did the payroll so I know.

“And talking to my colleagues on Facebook, she mentioned that about 19 people have got jobs, but I’d say that about five had so that’s untrue.”

He said there were no jobs available for disabled people so help with finding work was “unnecessary”.

Ms McVey said she was willing to speak to Mr Karim to give him any support she could.

On Thursday it emerged 875 employees, including 682 disabled people, have been told they face compulsory redundancy.

Unions have attacked the decision as “cruel”, warning of the difficulty disabled workers face looking for other jobs.

Ministers announced earlier this year that several Remploy factories would close, arguing the budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.

Now, 34 factories have ceased operations and are in the process of closing, but the future of 18 others remained unclear.

Some factories could move out of Government-funded support, but others are set to close.

Workers at risk of redundancy are in 15 factories, including an automotive textiles plant in Huddersfield, furniture businesses based in Neath, Sheffield and Blackburn, textiles in Dundee, Stirling and Clydebank, and packaging in Norwich, Portsmouth, Burnley and Sunderland.

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