A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a facility which employs primarily disabled workers from closure, following proposed budget cuts by Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon.
Save Ayresome Industries has been launched by politicians, Community Union members and workers, after the Independent mayor announced plans to close the facility as part of £11m budget cuts in 2013-14.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, and Labour and Co-operative candidate for Redcar, Anna Turley, are backing the campaign organised by Community Union, which represents many of the workers there.
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The Middlesbrough facility, which has operated for 70 years, provides employment for 37 workers, most of who are disabled, making UPVC goods, industrial brushes and handling confidential waste.
News that it could soon close has devastated its workforce, some of whom have worked there for more than 40 years. Mr Blenkinsop said: “This is an important campaign that needs as much support as possible. Mayor Mallon needs to be shown how important Ayresome Industries is as it provides work for disabled workers allowing them to earn a living, gain confidence and independence.
“Specialist disability employment is vital and in the North East alone 67 per cent of disabled people at working age are either unemployed or inactive.
“The closure of Ayresome Industries would only add to this figure as it will prove extremely difficult for workers to find any work in an area with such high unemployment, never mind suitable work for their particular requirements and skillset.”
Ayresome Industries employee and Community Union member, Craig Harvey said: “Everybody in there is annoyed about it. “We've got men in there who've got disabilities but they are still very, very good workers – some are even speed workers. “We've got one man who works there who is deaf, partially sighted, in his 50s, but he's very fast at making the brushes.”
Ms Turley said: “The workers of Ayresome have the right to work and the right to their dignity. While this Tory and Lib Dem government is slashing local government budgets, and hitting Teesside the hardest, the Mayor still has a responsibility to stand up for the most vulnerable people and support opportunities for them to earn their living. “His decision to cut the support for Ayresome is condemning people to dependency and benefits. I urge him to reconsider and find the savings from elsewhere within the council.”
A spokesman for Middlesbrough Council said the closure of the factory was still only a proposal at this stage, and the Mayor was set to announce on December 18 which of the proposals would become recommendations, and which would be dropped.
Details of the campaign can be found at facebook.com/SaveAyresomeIndustries and the petition is available to sign at change.org/petitions/save-ayresome-industries