This blog post has been inspired by my friendship with Peter Gordon Smith who works at Remploy Ashington. I have to write this blog post in 3 parts which will be posted over the next few days because there is so much to analyse.
Remploy is actually a British manufacturing firm. From looking at the Remploy website the words 'industrial strategy' come to mind. I heard Vince Cable talking about this at conference last week. In a speech given on 26 October 2011 Mr Cable said that, 'One of the first decisions I took was to put manufacturing at the centre of our long term economic vision.'
In the letter that Mr Cable wrote to David Cameron, which was leaked to the press, he said, 'Second and more controversially, we should be willing to identify British success stories as identified through success in trade and explicitly get behind them at the highest political level..."advanced" manufacturing and related services. For example, the aerospace and automotive sectors are each an important UK success story. Beneath these industries are broad supply chains and key relationships with other growth areas like composites and plastic electronics'.
Remploy makes things for the car, electronics, health, clothing and building industries. This is manufacturing. Computers refurbished by Remploy are exported to Africa. Remploy is involved in enviromentally friendly production. Mr Cable also said in his speech that in the UK there is a decreasing proportion of the supply chains that are local. If you examine the list of products made by Remploy you will see that these are supply chain solutions.
The 36 factories that are going to close have been called 'not commercially viable'. Why isn't procurement being looked at? In fact, Remploy itself states on its website that public bodies can take advantage of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 which allows buyers to support businesses like Remploy.
It is alleged that Remploy management have been turning down commercially viable contracts because they have been planning for the closures. I cannot provide evidence to back this up but a number of my sources tell me this.
I am interested to hear your views.