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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Jobs may still go if Barrow factory survives

JOBS could be lost even if a deal is reached to save a factory which employs disabled workers.

Some 21 staff at the Remploy factory in Barrow have been fearing for their futures since the government announced plans to close the site in March.

The Flass Lane plant was one of 36 across the UK earmarked for closure as a result of government cuts.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions announced earlier this summer it could be saved after bids were made for it to continue as a private enterprise.

A preferred bidder was named in the summer, but the company was then removed from the process after breaching commercial confidentiality rules.

Nationwide Filter Company Ltd was then named as the preferred bidder and has been in talks with Remploy bosses since October.

The Evening Mail understands that although no deal has yet been agreed, Nationwide Filter Company Ltd hopes to take over the plant but may cut the number of staff at the factory. Remploy said although no guarantee could be made about the future of the factory, talks are progressing well.

A spokesman said: “Talks have been continuing and have progressed very well. The talks will continue and although I can’t say when there will be an announcement, we are hopeful there might be one soon.”

Steve Forbes, Barrow GMB union representative, said staff had been informed that if the company does reach a deal there may be changes to terms and conditions and job losses.

He said: “We hope to have a meeting with the Nationwide Filter Company this week if possible.

“They are looking at making cuts to the workforce and cuts to the terms and conditions, which we will sit round to discuss and aim to mitigate.”

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock, who has conducted talks aimed at saving jobs at the factory, said it was vital that the preferred bidders retained as many posts as possible.

“It has been a long-running and emotionally unsettling time for the workforce,” he said.

“Nationwide Filters assured me that it is committed to maintaining the Remploy operation at the Barrow site. The company should now retain as many members of the loyal and skilled workforce as it possibly can.”

Marjorie Nicholson, communications manager at Nationwide Filter Company Ltd, said talks were continuing this week and any possible discussion about job losses would be included in these talks.

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