Calls for voluntary redundancies among staff at a firm employing mainly disabled workers could result in around 1,500 job losses, union leaders have warned.
Remploy said it was constantly seeking to improve efficiency, adding that the scheme being offered to staff in its Enterprise Businesses and Central Service was “entirely voluntary”.
The firm said its factory businesses had suffered under the current economic climate, with many operating at less than 50% capacity.
A spokesman said: “As a result, Remploy is not fulfilling its mission to provide sustainable employment opportunities for disabled people. We will ensure that any employee who decides to leave and wants to continue working will have guaranteed support from our employment services to find another job.”
GMB national officer Phil Davies said: “The factory sites have since been starved of work because of an incompetent and overpaid management. This is in spite of the fact that the EU allows public authorities to place one contract with a supported workshop but the management have failed to take advantage of this provision.
“The trade unions will not accept this situation and will fight to stop the sell-off of disabled jobs. This is the harshest cut of all that this Government has proposed. To make things worse, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, publicly pledged his full support in 2008 to stop any Remploy factory closures.”
Unite blamed “poor management” for the announcement, warning that half the 3,000 disabled employees, some of them severely disabled, could lose their jobs.
The union’s new leader, Len McCluskey, called on the Government to intervene, adding: “What these employees face is a nightmare scenario of struggling to find new jobs in the toughest jobs market since the early 1990s, when we all know that disabled people are always at the back of the jobs queue. Ultimately, there is the prospect that some of these factories could close.
“If the Big Society means anything, it should be about helping those most in need of employment to secure work – with all the self-respect and financial security that brings. We will be campaigning against this voluntary redundancy programme during the 90-day consultation period.”