Jobs cash bid to aid disabled staff

RemployA multimillion-pound scheme to help find work for disabled workers losing their jobs through the closure of Remploy factories has been announced by the Welsh government.

Minister for Education and Skills, Leighton Andrews, said an employer support grant will be offered for up to four years to encourage and support firms to offer jobs in Wales to eligible disabled Remploy workers, at a cost of £2.4 million a year.
The UK Government has confirmed the closure of a number of Remploy sites across Britain, including those in Aberdare, Abertillery, Merthyr Tydfil, Swansea and Wrexham, leading to the loss of at least 183 jobs in Wales.

Remploy workers will stage a strike on Thursday and again next week in protest at the closures.

Mr Andrews said: "Last week's decision to close the Remploy factories in Wales was a devastating blow to the workers and their communities.

"Since the UK Government announced their intentions we have suggested a number of alternatives to them, including devolving the Remploy budget and factories to the Welsh Government, but they refused to consider any of our proposals.

"This Welsh Government believes employment and dignity should not be a privilege. So we have acted swiftly to support the workers who face unemployment. We have been working with local authorities, social enterprises, supported businesses and private sector businesses to identify potential employment opportunities.

"We disagree profoundly with the one-size-fits-all approach to finding employment for disabled people. So while mainstream employment should be the aim for most, we believe there is a place for supported and sheltered employment, skills development and other public service provisions where appropriate."

Unite's Wales Secretary Andy Richards said: "Once again we see the Welsh Government coming out on the side of the Welsh workers who are being hit hardest by the callous coalition government in London.

"The Welsh Government commitment to helping Remploy workers and the package of support announced today by Leighton Andrews is to be welcomed. We will keep working with the Welsh Government and fighting for Remploy workers."

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