Disabled jobs under threat at Rainworth factory

AROUND 35 disabled workers are facing an uncertain end to the year as County Hall begins talks into closing their Rainworth factory.

Sherwood Industries, which produces furniture for school classrooms, supports people with a range of disabilities and is subsidised by Nottinghamshire County Council.

The authority says the factory cost taxpayers more than £830,000 last year and bosses say they want to find mainstream jobs for the people affected.

But union leaders branded the council’s consultation into the plans a ‘sham’ this week, while campaigners for the disabled said it would be difficult for staff to find alternative employment.

Unison’s adult social care convener in Nottinghamshire, Pete Watson, said the council was deliberately running down the factory and did not even provide it with a contract for its own school supplies.

“I have had meetings with the staff there and they are rightly angry and worried about the future,” he said.

“Those who don’t want it to close are uncomfortable about speaking out so the consultation exercise is unfair.”

Liz Silver, from the Nottinghamshire Disabled People’s Movement, said although it was better to find work for disabled residents in mainstream employment this was difficult in the current economic climate.

“The people who work in sheltered employment like that offered at Sherwood Industries would find it harder to get an alternative job in the open market,” she said.

“Some have been there for a long time and have really useful skills. But their chances of finding employment elsewhere at the moment are pretty low.

“Disabled people still face a great deal of discrimination.”

The council says its recommendations are in line with Government proposals calling for a more personalised approach to supported employment. A spokesman said there would be face to face meetings between managers and staff, trade unions, service users, parents and carers throughout October before consultation ends on 1st January.

To take part in the questionnaire visit www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/supportedemploymentconsultation or call 08449 80 80 80.