Just the job as Remploy staff get back in work

workers made redundant by disabled firm Remploy have been offered a jobs lifeline.

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The Remploy workers were delighted to be back at work
The Remploy workers were delighted to be back at work

North Lanarkshire Council has set up NL Industries to take over and run the former Remploy factory in Wishaw in an expansion of Beltane Products, the town's existing furniture and refurbishing service.

Beltane already employs 21 disabled people and their numbers will be boosted by seven former Remploy employees and three from the council's Supported Employment Service.

NL Industries has plans to provide a range of services, including kitchen furniture assembly, secure document storage, fire extinguisher refurbishment and servicing and clothing embroidery for items such as school uniforms.

As the business is developed, it is hoped another five disabled employees will be taken on.

The Remploy factory in the town was axed last year when the UK Government withdrew funding from 36 factories employing more than 1500 disabled workers. In Wishaw, 24 employees lost their jobs through the factory closure.

The refurbished factory was officially opened yesterday to coincide with United Nations' International Day for Disabled People.

After months of behind-the-scenes work, the council secured the lease on the factory in Netherton Industrial Estate to allow NL Industries to take shape.

Council leader Jim McCabe, who opened the facility, said: "The decision to throw these people on the scrapheap was a disgrace. But we were determined the workforce and the business had a viable future. Our aim is to assist people on the fringes of employ­ment to join the mainstream workforce and develop a meaningful career within a successful enterprise.

"To secure that future we have expanded our current operations and NL Industries will continue the fabulous work of Beltane, while assembling kitchens for deployment in our refurbish­ment programme by our partners, Mears."

Anne-Marie Lagota, 48, from Bellshill, was made redundant when Remploy shut its doors. She had worked there for 27 years.

She said: "Losing my job was devastating. I was worried about my home, the lack of jobs available and I was depressed.

"Since starting with NL Industries I have been able to undertake new training, including computer skills.

"The variety of work opportunities in the new plant is exciting and I am so happy to be working here."

Stephen Smith, 52, from Wishaw, said: "Losing my job at Remploy was soul-destroying. We all used to socialise together and go on outings to things like football.

"I did some voluntary work and went to the JobCentre every day but it was really tough. I didn't think at my age I would get another opportunity but now I have got a positive future and have been able to learn new skills."

Careers and Jobs

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