‘These staff may never work again’

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AMID the turmoil of economic meltdown, the loss of 28 jobs at a small Edinburgh factory may seem like little more than a footnote.

But the staff at the Remploy site are not just facing the prospect of endless hours of job-hunting, they are facing up to the very real prospect that they may never work again.

The UK government has swung the austerity axe at the organisation, with 1750 mostly disabled workers going across the UK, including the Edinburgh team.

It argues that it costs £25,000 a year to support each worker compared with £2900 to help a disabled person in mainstream employment.

The figures make sense, but for those who work in the factories the logic leaves much to be desired. For a disabled person to be supported into mainstream employment, the opportunities must, of course, exist in the first place. And, as we know from experience in the Capital, these appear more elusive than ever.

The loss of Remploy follows the high-profile closure last year of the historic Blindcraft factory in Edinburgh to save an estimated £1 million in public subsidy. The fate that befell those workers may be telling.

Only 11 of the 37-strong disabled workforce at BlindCraft had managed to find new jobs by Christmas, although six others had gone into further education. Almost half the workforce decided to retire instead of seek new work.

Perhaps the council, which offered support to Blindcraft staff, will also be able to help those at Remploy using the experience they have gained over the last year.

However, the real duty lies with the UK Government, which has cut the funding to ensure those 28 staff get all the help they need to carry on working.

It would be damning if a year from now most of them are still looking for new work.

Park strife is over

You could almost hear the sigh of relief from inside the crumbling classrooms of Portobello High.

The legal challenge to block the development of the new school on Portobello Park has finally been kicked out, meaning building work can at last get under way.

As we have said before, the Evening News fully supports everyone’s right to protest but this issue should have been sorted out long before it ended up in the Court of Session.

What was never in doubt was that everyone agrees Portobello desperately needs a new school. Let’s hope that can become a reality without any further delay.