Disabled workers told Trentham Lakes Remploy factory will close by Christmas
DISABLED workers have spoken of their devastation after being told their factory is to be shut before Christmas.
The Government confirmed yesterday that 27 Remploy plants are to close, including one at Trentham Lakes.
It will shut between mid-August and December with the loss of 114 jobs.
The factory's Unite representative Colin Hanley, who has worked for Remploy for 25 years, said: "People have been in tears. The Government couldn't care less about us.
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"I am very upset myself. I've been here 25 years and there are others who've been here a similar amount of time.
"But we're not just talking about North Staffordshire, it's all the other factories too. It's terrible."
Workers at the Gordon Banks Drive site carry out a range of jobs, including assembly for car companies and book binding.
The Government announced in March that Remploy was planning to close 36 of its 54 factories, putting more than 1,700 jobs at risk.
It came after a review concluded its £320 million budget for disabled employment services could be spent more effectively.
Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, was heckled by opposition MPs yesterday as she told the Commons that 27 factories were to be closed.
She also announced a further consultation on the future of nine other plants which have been the subject of takeover bids.
She said: "This is difficult news. We are doing everything we can to ensure that Remploy workers will receive a comprehensive package of support and guidance to make the transition from Government-funded sheltered employment to mainstream jobs."
Unions Unite and GMB reacted furiously to the announcement and said that strikes scheduled for July 19 and 26 would go ahead as planned.
Mr Hanley said: "We will still be taking part in the strikes even though we are closing. We have got to fight for what we can get and we need all the support we can muster."
GMB national secretary Phil Davies said: "In the present economic climate to close these factories is a sentence to a life of unemployment and poverty.
"The strikes will go ahead as planned and should be a rallying point giving each local community the opportunity to stand behind these disabled workers who will be facing the scrapheap."
Unite national officer Sally Kosky added: "Our members are desperate to work in an environment that takes account of their disability, where they can make a valued contribution to society and pay their way.
"They do not want to be thrown on the scrapheap and relying on handouts."