16 November 2007 | Antony Barton
Securing additional public sector contracts is central to the future of a chain of factories that employs disabled workers, according to a trade union.
The GMB this week presented its business plan to ministers from the Department for Work and Pensions, outlining a way to keep all 83 Remploy plants open.
In 2005 the National Audit Office found that Remploy, a government-owned manufacturing firm for disabled workers, was unsustainable. In July 2006, ministers set Remploy the task of creating a programme to modernise and help more disabled people back into employment in the long term.
GMB's plan includes securing an additional £50 million of public procurement orders by reducing procurement costs and improving working practices. It also suggests a range of ways to reduce overheads.
Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said in a statement: "When we started, the management did not see that public procurement could save the factories. They now agree that it can."
Remploy's plan, submitted to ministers on Monday, proposes the closure of 28 factories and also assumes increased engagement with public procurement to safeguard the rest of the organisation.
Under the proposals Remploy believes it can achieve sales of £461 million - a 130 per cent increase on current public sector sales.
Work and pensions secretary Peter Hain is expected to make a decision about Remploy's future within the next few weeks.