Remploy staff fears

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DOZENS of disabled St Helens workers fear they will be “thrown on the scrapheap” after a consultation period was launched which will determine their futures.

The town’s 35 remaining Remploy staff received formal notification of the start of a 90-day consultation on Monday (March 19).

Local GMB shop steward Paul Boken said the workers, who all opted to stay on as agency workers following the closure of the St Helens Remploy factory, fear it will be the last time they ever work.

He told the Reporter: “In 90 days time 1,700 workers, including the 35 of us left on Remploy’s books in St Helens, could be thrown on the scrapheap.

“I was one of the workers who decided to stay on as an agency worker after the local Remploy factory was shut down four years ago. Now it looks like we could be out of work for good.

“It’s hard enough for thousands of other people in St Helens to get jobs at the moment, but it could be even harder for us. I’ve got a bad feeling that this consultation is just a matter of going through the motions and, ultimately, will lead to a long time on the dole.”

Mr Boken, who has asked Shaun Woodward MP to raise the matter in Parliament on his behalf, added: “I’ve already had to start working in Blackburn because there are no jobs in St Helens. What chance have we got of getting a job against someone who has no disabilities?”

A Remploy spokeswoman confirmed that, as a result of Government funding cuts, cash designated to the local agency workers was being withdrawn.

She added that Remploy would liaise with trade unions and management during the 90-day consultation period in a bid to mitigate the number of job losses. The 90-day period will be followed by 30-day individual consultations.

The Government has already pledged £8m of support to Remploy workers nationwide - should compulsory redundancies be enforced.