NEARLY 140 disabled Scottish workers are at risk of redundancy after the UK Government announced all Remploy factories north of the Border are to close.

The businesses affected are the Marine and Frontline Textile factories which produce chemical protection suits for the military and hi-tech lifejackets at Leven, Cowdenbeath, Stirling, Dundee and Clydebank.

More than 230 disabled staff across the UK face redundancy, or around one in three of the workforce, as ministers plan to cut funding for Remploy following a review of disability employment support.

Last year, 36 factories were sold or closed in the first phase of this process, with the remainder being put up for sale.

In Scotland, where the announcement generated a storm of protest from campaigners, it was revealed a further 20 non-disabled staff were at risk of redundancy.

Disability charity Capability Scotland warned many of those employed by Remploy had significant impairments and in the face of a "lack of jobs, underfunded employment programmes and evidence that employers continue to overlook disabled jobseekers, they will face significant challenges finding alternative employment".

Charlie McMillan, director of services and development at the charity, added: "There is no doubt this will be worrying news for many of those employed at the Remploy factories. Paid employment is a fundamental right of disabled people and is essential in enabling people to achieve their independence."

The Government indicated jobs for about 70% of the 515 disabled employees in the remaining factories and CCTV sites south of the Border could be saved after they attracted bids to take over the businesses.

Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey said the Government had announced last year it would implement the recommendations of the Sayce review to withdraw funding from Remploy factories and redirect it to enable more disabled people to find jobs. She said £50 million was going into funding "failing" factories.

Remploy had been trying to transfer the remaining seven businesses, in 18 factories, and the 27 CCTV contracts, affecting more than 1000 employees.

It indicated a bid had been received from an unidentified not-for-profit social enterprise group to buy a number of the assets from the Scots businesses but could not provide any further details.

Ms McVey said: "Despite having had considerable interest in the marine and frontline textile businesses at Leven, Cowdenbeath, Stirling, Dundee and Clydebank, Remploy did not receive a best and final offer for these businesses as part of the commercial process.

"For all disabled ex-employees, we have put in place a package to provide a comprehensive range of support for all disabled individuals made redundant as a result of Remploy factory closures.

"This tailored support is available for individuals to access for up to 18 months after their factory closes and includes access to a personal case worker and a personal budget to help individuals with their future choices."

However, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was a "shameful abandonment" of disabled people.

Mr Brown, Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: "This is a shameful abandonment of disabled people who work at Remploy. The factories at Leven and Cowdenbeath have a full order book and could expand their workload given the demand for their product.

"The government's narrow interpretation of what is viable has been rejected, not only by the workforce but by the Scottish select committee. Once again, men and women who have given their lives to building up a business and have proved they have a continuing long-term market for their products have been deserted in their hour of need. They have been abandoned by the government."

Scotland's enterprise minister, Fergus Ewing, said: "The news the five remaining Remploy factories in Scotland will close is another blow for the workers who have been living under the threat of redundancy for well over a year."

Jerry Nelson, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This is devastating news but not untypical from this uncaring government who cannot be relied on to protect the vulnerable."