41 members of staff at Wrexham’s Remploy factory are facing redundancy after being notified today that the factory will have to close its doors for good later this year.
The news will come as a bitter blow for the Railway Road factory’s 41 disabled employees as well as local campaigners who had hoped to save the factory.
When we spoke to Wrexham MP Ian Lucas yesterday he told us of his hope for the factory’s future after attending meetings held between Remploy, Wrexham Council, Glyndwr University, Yale College and an unnamed private company who would have taken over the running of the factory.
However, those hopes now appear to have been dashed after a statement was released this afternoon stating that 27 factories including Wrexham would be closed.
Remploy will now commence individual consultation with 1218 employees at the 27 factories who are at risk of redundancy. It is currently anticipated that the closures will take place between September and December this year and that redundancies may start in August.
Making an impassioned speech when the announcement was made in the House of Commons Ian Lucas accused Minister for Disabled People Maria Miller of lying when she said the closures had the support of Wales, however was made to retract the comment.
He said: “I would like her to come and meet the Wrexham Remploy staff and explain the decision, she should be ashamed of her statement. She claims that this decision has the support of the whole of Wales and that is a lie.”
Speaking after the Commons session he said: “Workers in Remploy – both in Wrexham and across the country – have told the government their plans are wrong. Thousands of people in Wrexham have signed petitions to tell the government their plans are wrong. I have told ministers in the commons, in meetings and by letter that their plans are wrong.
“The Government have not listened. It has failed Remploy workers by forcing its plans through in the shortest amount of time possible.
“There have been routes to support Remploy – such as through procurement – which the government could have supported. The government rejected them.
“I had been working behind the scenes with many organisations in Wrexham to support a private sector bid for the local factory. That bid has been rejected by the government today.
“I asked the minister this afternoon to explain her decision to Remploy workers in Wrexham but she refused to do so.
“I am bitterly disappointed. I will continue to do all I can to help Remploy workers in Wrexham in the coming months.”
Local politicians, Remploy staff and members of the public have all fought hard to try and save the factory in recent months with solidarity marches and a petition held.
In April Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dodged Remploy staff and supporters on a visit to Glyndwr University.
The Wrexham furniture factory was one of 36 earmarked for closure after the Remploy Board proposed a series of significant changes to its operations as a result of the UK government’s decision to reduce funding for the firm.
The government accepted the recommendations of the Sayce Review which reported that in future government funding should be used to maximise the support for disabled people rather than subsidise organisations like Remploy.