The Scottish Affairs Committee is holding a short inquiry into the proposed sale or closure of the two Remploy factories in Fife, at Leven and Cowdenbeath, which make up Remploy Marine Textiles Fife. The factories were established in 1948 and manufacture life jackets. The factories have a full order book, and make 30,000 life jackets each year, selling them internationally.
Remploy is a government owned company that provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities and “complex barriers to work”. In March 2012, the Government announced its intention to reduce and ultimately withdraw funding for Remploy. 36 factory sites were proposed for closure in phase 1 between March and July 2012 and only 2 of those have survived. Phase 2 of the sales closure process started in January 2013 for the remaining 18 factories and the deadline for initial bids is at the end of this month.
Wednesday 13 March
At 2.30pm in Committee Room 6, Palace of Westminster
- Cllr David Ross, Depute Leader, Fife Council
- John Moist, Friends of Remploy
- Lyn Turner, Regional Secretary of Unite the Union
Lindsay Roy CBE, MP for Glenrothes and Member of the Committee, said:
“These two Fife factories are producing a saleable, high quality product and have full order books. It is expected that with some changes to the business they could expand their production even further. Each business has unique circumstances and a ‘one size fits all’ approach to sustaining these businesses is patently inappropriate. These factories provide valuable jobs to people who have found it very difficult to get into more conventional employment: jobs that will very likely simply be lost if the factories close.
“We know the business needs to make some changes to be able to be financially viable without the previous Government subsidies, but they need time to do it. It is simply a false economy to close these factories or sell them off to the highest bidder without any assurances about the future of the employment there, in order to save the current subsidy, rather than give them reasonable time to make the transition to a sustainable business that will continue to keep people in work and off more benefits.
“With the initial deadline for bids looming at the end of March we are urgently holding this short inquiry to explore the wider consequences of the different options for Remploy in Fife and we hope that the Department for Work and Pensions will carefully consider the further evidence that will be forthcoming from witnesses.”