FRANK WILSON (Quality inspector)
‘Remploy says it’s going to get people real jobs, but we have already got real jobs and a real life here’
Frank Wilson, 52, has worked in the central cutting unit for five years. Before that, he worked in the factory it is being merged with for 10 years. He has a heart condition, severe mobility problems and cannot stand up for long periods.
Job title: Quality inspector in the cutting room.
Prepared to strike: Yes.
Before joining Remploy, Wilson was a butcher and worked in a shipbuilding yard. But he says that the onset of his health problems made getting a job impossible. “As soon as I mentioned I had a heart condition, that was it.”
Wilson says the aim of helping disabled people into mainstream employment is laudable, but they must be given a choice. And he questions what will happen to those for whom it is unsuitable.
“I physically couldn’t cope working outside. I have got only a few years left on my mortgage, and I could lose everything.
“Our choice of where we work is being taken off us. Bob Warner [Remploy’s chief executive] says he’s going to get people real jobs in the mainstream. But we have already got real jobs, and we have got a real life here,” he says.
Wilson is also sceptical about how Remploy is going to meet its target of helping 20,000 disabled people a year into employment by 2012.
The cutting unit, as with many other Remploy factories, is in an area of high unemployment. In May, 660 jobs were axed at Burton’s Foods factory nearby after its biscuit production ceased. “Where are the jobs coming from?” he asks.
The Remploy pledge that all affected disabled workers will continue to receive the same pay, terms and conditions does not mean that they will not lose out financially, Wilson says.
If the cutting unit workers move to the factory over the road, they will lose their shift allowances, and he will not receive the extra payment he gets for being a “leading hand” (a foreman), he says.
However, Remploy says it is too early to “determine the outcome at any specific location” on shift allowances and other extra payments.