THE Welsh Government says it wants to look at whether the jobs of more than 60 disabled workers employed in Gwent's Remploy factories can be saved.

The Argus reported yesterday that Remploy furniture factories in Cwmtillery and Croespenmaen are under threat, after the UK Government decided to scrap funding for Remploy factories across the country.

Cwmtillery's Remploy factory employs 21 disabled people, while 44 disabled workers are employed in Croespenmaen.

The sites are two of seven Welsh factories facing closure, and there will now be a 90 day consultation on the proposals.

But Welsh minister for education and skills Leighton Andrews said in statement that there needed to be an "immediate discussion" about Remploy's assets in Wales, so the Welsh Government could work with disabled people, trade unions and others who want to turn the factories into social enterprises.

Mr Andrews said Wednesday's announcement by Maria Miller, the UK minister for disabled people, was "devastating for these workers, their families and the local communities" and the Welsh Government wants to explore how the Welsh Remploy factories can be maintained.

Mr Andrews said: "We will examine closely the options for future support for the factories in Wales, including the development of social enterprises.

"It would be premature for us as a Government to say more at this stage until we have more detailed information from the UK Government and from Remploy.

Our focus as a government will be on maintaining employment opportunities for Remploy workers."

Remploy employs 434 people in Wales, 408 of whom are disabled, while the seven Welsh factories set to close have 281 staff, 272 of whom are disabled.

Westminster said it was closing the factories because they are not considered viable, and the country's £320 million budget for disability employment services is set to be used in "more effective" ways.

Remploy staff affected by the changes would be guaranteed a share in an £8 million package of support for 18 months after the proposed closures.