Fears for jobs at Port Talbot Remploy factory
THERE are fears of compulsory redundancy at a Port Talbot factory.
The UK Government has asked for "expressions of interest" from firms willing to take on the Baglan and Porth (Rhondda) Remploy 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 Remploy 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."