MORE than 100 disabled people in Scotland are facing redundancy after four publicly subsidised factories were earmarked for closure.

Unions and politicians reacted with anger after it emerged the axe is hanging over 36 Remploy factories in the UK, including those in Glasgow, Motherwell, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The Government's decision to cut funding to the company is expected to put 111 jobs at risk in Scotland, while a total of 1700 workers, the majority of whom have disabilities, will be affected across the UK.

Remploy, which was established in 1945 to provide employment for disabled people, is a Government-owned company that supplies chemical and biological protection suits to the police and armed forces, furniture to the UK edu- cation sector, and manufactures components for leading motor manufacturers.

Maria Miller, UK Minister for Disabled People, announced in a written statement to the House of Commons yesterday the 36 facilities could close their doors by the end of the year because they are no longer financially viable.

The decision to close the factories, putting the employees out of work, was branded "barbaric", "callous" and "disgusting".

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said: "This is a barbaric decision. The Government has sunk to a new low by sacking more than 1000 disabled workers.

"In the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, these workers' prospects of finding work are almost zero. Unite is determined to fight this decision."

After an outcry from MPs over the move, Ms Miller made an unscheduled statement in the Commons last night to defend the "difficult but important" decision to cut funding for Remploy. She told MPs: "The current system is not using the money that we have available most effectively. In these difficult economic times we have to look at that very carefully.

"The current situation is not sustainable and it is simply not working for the majority of the seven million disabled people who live in all of our constituencies, up and down the country. By spending money more effectively, up to 8000 more unemployed disabled people could be supported into mainstream employment."

Ms Miller said the £320 million budget for disability employment had to be protected and the money would be spent more effectively on "proven employment programmes".

She said: "The Government will reduce its current subsidy to Remploy from the beginning of the new financial year so that we cease funding factories that make significant losses year after year and restrict funding to those factories which might have a prospect of a viable future without Government subsidy."

Remploy is proposing to close more than half of its 54 factories in the UK, with potential compulsory redundancies of 1752 people, including 1518 disabled employees. A 90-day consultation process has been launched.

Along with the sites in Scotland that have been picked for closure, a further four facilities are believed to have been earmarked for "further consideration". Remploy's other Scottish sites are in Clydebank, Cowdenbeath, Dundee, Leven and Stirling.

Anne McGuire, MP for Stirling and Labour's Shadow Minister for Disabled People, criticised the way the news had emerged in Ms Miller's written statement.

She said: "It is frankly out-rageous that the Government has tried to smuggle out the bad news. This is the wrong plan at the wrong time. Unemployment is going through the roof, and is higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK.

"Back-to-work schemes aren't working, and the Government thinks this is a good time to sack disabled workers. It is utterly shocking."

Frank Roy, Labour MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, added: "When I spoke to the staff in the afternoon, they didn't even know they had lost their jobs. I am disgusted.

"This is a cut too far from a Government that doesn't care."

The announcement that the factories were to close came in a response from Ms Miller to a Government-sponsored review into employment for the disabled, which said reform was needed.

Scottish Government Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing said: "This must be a very distressing time for Remploy staff, and I am very disappointed with the way the UK Government has made its decisions.

"I spoke to the UK Minister today and will be meeting with her to seek further reassurances. We will maintain close contact to offer support ... and to ensure every avenue is being explored to help employees back into work."