By Claire West

The government was urged to step in to save disabled workers being ‘forced to the back of the jobs’ queue’, as Remploy this week announced a voluntary redundancy programme across its 54 factories.

Unite, the union, blamed poor management for the announcement which could mean that 50 percent of the 3,000 disabled employees, some of them severely disabled, losing their jobs.

Unite’s General Secretary-designate, Len McCluskey called on Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith to step in to save the jobs of some of the country’s most disadvantaged workers.

He said: ‘What these employees face is a nightmare scenario of struggling to find new jobs in the toughest jobs’ market since the early 1990’s, 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.’[/u]

Unite said that the failure of management to secure the future contracts for the factories, while the management awarded themselves bonuses, was key to the incompetent executive culture.

Len McCluskey said: [i]‘At the end of last year, management took home an average £4,500 bonus each, with the Chief Executive, Tim Matthews being awarded £10,000. The bonus pot amounted to £1.2m — yet what we end up with is today’s depressing announcement.’

Remploy factories make such diverse products as furniture and textiles, and provide services such as recycling and ‘cleaning’ computers.