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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Hain confirms Remploy 'reprieve'
Protest march in Cardiff
Workers have staged a protest march in support of Remploy jobs
Campaigners in Wales are examining a decision which could prevent the closure of Remploy factories which predominantly employ disabled workers.

Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain said the government, rather than the firm, would decide on their future.

He said there would be no compulsory redundancies at the 42 factories across the UK, including six in Wales.

The Neath MP, who is also Welsh secretary, said he had admired the work of his local Remploy plants for years.

Four Welsh Remploy plants had been due to close and two to merge in a programme which drew strong protests.

But Mr Hain said an agreement had been reached with unions and management which meant there would be no closures without ministerial approval.

"Basically, management and unions had been at loggerheads and now we are in a position where there are serious negotiations," said Mr Hain.

Peter Hain at the Labour conference
I feel very strongly in sympathy and support for them and I wasn't happy about the position we'd got to
Peter Hain on Remploy

He said every effort would be made to ensure Remploy "could stay within budget, modernise, get extra work... and move forward into a promising future.

"I wasn't happy, to be perfectly blunt, when I came into this job at the end of June with the way things had been going.

"I've worked with my local Remploy workers in my Neath constituency and the surrounding plants for the entire 17 years I've been an MP.

"I know them very well, I feel very strongly in sympathy and support for them and I wasn't happy about the position we'd got to."

Showdown

His announcement appeared to have headed off a showdown between the unions and the Labour leadership at the party conference in Bournemouth.

Without the deal confirmed by Mr Hain, the government had seemed likely to face its only defeat on the conference floor at Gordon Brown's first party conference as leader and prime minister.

The GMB union had planned to put forward a motion calling on ministers to stop plans to close the Remploy factories with the loss of 2,500 jobs.

In Wales some 365 employees, most of whom are people with disabilities, were due to be affected.

The Welsh plants scheduled to close were at Aberdare, Abertillery, Treforest and Wrexham. Two others, at Brynamman and Ystradgynlais, had been due to merge with one in the Neath Port Talbot area.

The closure of another factory, at Bridgend, was called off two weeks ago after the 89 staff were told it had more work than had been expected.

Remploy had said it wanted to put 2,270 of its 5,000 disabled employees across the UK into mainstream employment.



SEE ALSO
Disabled workers' changes protest
03 Mar 07 |  South East Wales

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