LEADING politicians have condemned plans to close seven of the nine Remploy factories in Wales, including the plant in Swansea, with the potential loss of 272 jobs for disabled workers.
Aberavon MP Hywel Francis and AM David Rees said in a joint statement: “We deplore the closure of two-thirds of the Remploy factories across the country, many of them in Wales.
“Labour in Parliament and the Assembly are united in demanding that Remploy’s budget be ring-fenced to help people with disabilities back to work.
“We believe this is the wrong plan at the wrong time – sacking disabled workers during a recession will only make unemployment levels higher.”
Mr Rees expressed concern for the future of the Remploy factory in Baglan Energy Park, which has not been identified for closure but has been listed as “potentially viable”.
He said: “I am pleased the hard work undertaken at the Baglan factory has been recognised, and that the business case is one which provides opportunities to continue.
“However, we cannot take our eyes off the ball, as the statement indicates that the factory is ‘potentially viable’ and thus there is still work to be done to ensure its long-term operation.”
Dr Francis, who was planning to visit the Baglan factory yesterday (Friday, March 9), said: “I intend speaking to the workforce, the unions and the management at the Baglan Remploy plant to express my full support and to work with them to ensure the long-term future of the plant.
“I will also tell them that I am totally opposed to these closure plans of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition which ignore the needs of the most vulnerable part of our workforce.”
Remploy is proposing to close 36 of its 54 factories across the UK, with potential compulsory redundancies of more than 1,700 disabled workers.
The GMB union, which represents Remploy workers, condemned the decision as “an attack on the most vulnerable members of our society”.
UK coalition ministers say “non-viable” Remploy factories should close, with the money re-invested in other schemes to help disabled people find work.
The Assembly Government said the closures had “disproportionately hit” Wales.
Remploy factories were established 66 years ago as part of the creation of the welfare state.