Factory workers face jobs threat

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JOBS are under threat at an Ashington factory run by the country’s leading employer of disabled people.

Eight out of 35 workers at Remploy’s Ashington site have applied for voluntary redundancy.

The company says its enterprise businesses face “significant challenges” due to the general decline in the manufacturing sectors in which it operates.

A Remploy spokesman said: “In these circumstances, it has been increasingly difficult for Remploy to fulfil its mission of transforming the lives of disabled people through sustainable employment, with many of our factories operating significantly below capacity and unable to provide meaningful work for our employees.

“We also have a commitment to remain within our five-year operational funding limit confirmed last year by the coalition government, and we have identified and are implementing a wide range of measures to improve the operational efficiency of the business.”

Remploy has received 33 other applications for voluntary redundancy from employees at its other north east sites – in Gateshead, Newcastle, Spennymoor and Sunderland – and 770 in total nationwide.

The spokesman added: “Remploy will now consider carefully every application for voluntary redundancy, and we hope to be able to inform employees whether their application has been successful within the next six weeks.

“Some applications may not be accepted if employees have specific skills which are essential to the operation of our businesses.

“Consultations on the programme will continue with the trade unions until the beginning of May.

“We will also engage in individual consultations with employees who have applied for redundancy.”

Ashington’s Remploy factory, on the Jubilee Industrial Estate, manufactures divan bases and garden furniture.