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Olympic torchbearer from Rainham faces dole as factories for disabled set to close

PUBLISHED: 17:35 02 July 2012

Tony Collins faces an uncertain future if the Barking Remploy factory closes

Tony Collins faces an uncertain future if the Barking Remploy factory closes

Archant

A disabled Remploy worker, from Rainham, who is due to carry the Olympic flame, could soon join the dole queue as the government plans to close its factories

Tony Collin, 34, is one of dozens of employees at the Barking factory, which employs those with disabilites, being balloted for strike action, as the government extended the consultation period for anonymous bidders to buy up factory sites.

Tony, who has learning disabilities, is due to carry the torch along the A129 High Street, Rayleigh, Essex, from Ridgeway to Orchard Avenue on Friday (July 6).

But the former international middle distance runner for the England and GB (learning disabled squads) is facing an uncertain future as the government gave bidders more time to make their business cases for the 36 factories around the country, which are to be closed soon.

The remaining 18 factories are to be sold next year.

A consultation period to discuss redundancy packages which ended on June 25 has been extended.

Julie Haynes, Unite rep and shop steward at the Barking factory, said: “There has been no meaningful dialogue with the unions.

“We’re still none the wiser as to what’s happening. The last business plan went in on June 25. We want to be consulted.

“And we want to keep our jobs.”

Her thoughts are echoed by Tony’s mother, Kathy Collins, who said: “Tony is desperate to work – he does not want to live on benefits.

“If the Barking factory is closed, the chances of Tony getting another job are extremely slim, even if the economy were booming, which it is not. We are asking for Iain Duncan Smith to rethink his misguided policies and keep the Remploy factories open.”

Maria Miller, minister for disabled people, last week published a statement to remind Remploy workers and their families

of an £8m personal support budgets fund which the government has set aside for Remploy workers.

The money would amount to about £4,560 per employee over the period of 18 months and will be used to help to find mainstream employment in the likely case they are made redundant.

At the Barking factory, 58 people including 44 disabled people will be affected by the Barking factory’s closure, including staff from Haverng.


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