Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland has called on UK and Scottish Governments to do more to help Remploy workers.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament debate on Remploy, John Pentland also praised North Lanarkshire Council for the support they were offering:
“It might not be possible to save all workplaces, so while we fight to keep the existing workplaces open we must also consider alternative means of providing and developing supported employment. I know that, in my area, North Lanarkshire Council already provides supported employment for 140 people, and will offer support through the North Lanarkshire’s Working scheme to those whose jobs are now at risk.
“The council has already said that it will consider the expansion of its operations. I hope that the Scottish Government can extend support for such action by local authorities and social enterprises through procurement and other initiatives.”
John noted that there had also been suggestions that Remploy workers could set up their own social enterprises and community cooperatives.
“In my speech, I called for two things that could help make these options more viable. First, I believe that the physical assets – equipment, land and buildings – should be given to the council or a social enterprise if they are willing to take on the operation.
“Second, I believe that since part of the problem has been lack of orders, there should be greater use of Article 19 of the EU public procurement rules, which allows contracts to be given to companies with a majority of disabled workers, and can also help procurement spending to benefit the local and Scottish economy.
“I think that the debate was very useful, and I was pleased that the Minister was looking for consensus and solutions, but I do wish some of his backbenchers would concentrate on exploring what can be done to help instead of trying to turn everything into an unproductive constitutional blame game.”