Jenny Marra - Uniforms for New Police Force should be made by Supported Workplaces
14 March 2012
The uniforms for Scotland’s new single police and fire services should be made in a supported workplace, such as Remploy – that is the call from Scottish Labour MSP Jenny Marra.
The call comes as the Tory-led government announced that over 100 disabled workers in Scotland were to lose their job with the closure of the Remploy factories in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Wishaw and Springburn.
A further four Remploy sites in Scotland have been identified for “further consideration”.
Jenny Marra said that if supported workplaces, such as Remploy, were to be awarded the contract it could safeguard the future of these remaining workplaces and the jobs of over 100 workers.
Remploy has a track-record in making quality workwear items, including recently making firefighters’ uniforms for the London Fire Brigade as well as radiation protection clothing for the Japanese government.
Latest figures suggest there are 17,343 police officers and 9,024 fire and rescue staff in Scotland.
The average cost of uniforms for new recruits is £903.44 for female and £881.50 male officers.
Single forces for Scotland's police and fire services are due to begin operating on 1 April 2013.
Jenny Marra, who is also Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Legal Affairs and Deputy Convenor of the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee, said,
“Supported workplaces like Remploy have a track record of manufacturing these sorts of uniforms.
“It could be a win-win if the SNP government plays its cards right.
“European legislation already exists which allows us to bypass the commercial tendering process so that the government can do the right thing and buy publicly funded goods from supported workplaces, like Remploy.
“When the Tory-led government is taking cruel decisions that will see hundreds of disabled workers dumped on the dole, it is our duty to stand up for them.
“The fact is if disabled people lose their jobs and end up claiming benefits – it costs us all more in the long run.
“I am sure that police and firefighters in the new Scottish services would be pleased to know that their uniforms had been made to the highest quality by people working in supported workplaces in their own communities.
“The SNP government has the power to save these people their jobs and their lifeline by putting this public contract straight to Remploy using European law that can support disabled workers. I hope they will use their power to do so.”
The Fire Brigades Union pointed out that Remploy have previously manufactured uniforms for the London Fire Brigade. Jim Malone, Regional Organiser of the FBU in Scotland, said:
“The FBU welcome Jenny Marra's initiative. Remploy have successfully tendered in delivering frontline fire service apparel for many years and the FBU would support the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's fire kit being contracted to Remploy workers in Scotland.”
Community trade union, which represents Remploy employees in Scotland, also backed the move. Community’s Scotland Organiser, John Paul McHugh, said:
“We believe that there can be a sustainable future for supported employment workplaces, including Remploy, but that this requires the right political will, targeted government funding, pro-active procurement policies and the correct business models.
“Because their workplace was closed last year after 218 years of providing employment opportunities for disabled people, Community members who worked at Edinburgh Blindcraft know exactly what Remploy colleagues must be going through after the recent announcement.
“Urgent government action is needed both north and south of the border to prevent Remploy joining Edinburgh Blindcraft as a footnote in history."
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