REDUNDANCY consultations have resumed for a dozen disabled workers at a council-run social enterprise.

The Adver reported in August that the employees are facing the axe from the Swindon Borough Council-managed Enterprise Works. It is the only job some of them have had in 20 years.

The authority decided two departments at the timber products site were no longer financially viable.

They have faced two months of uncertainty after the process was halted because of flaws in the support offered to staff.

Meetings for the 12 workers were paused on July 27.

They were invited to return meetings on September 20 but after two months to correct issues in the way things were handled, families of the affected workers are still not impressed. 

“It’s clear they’ve made some effort,” said Terry Davis, the father of Christine Davis, 44, one of those facing redundancy.

“But things are still the same. At the end of the meeting, after they’d talked to Christine for an hour, I asked them if they’d asked Christine if she understood what they’d said, so they asked her and she said ‘no’.

“I had a lot of questions I needed answers to, but I was told there wasn’t time.

“Christine was also on annual leave at the time so shouldn’t have been invited to a consultation meeting during that time, we had to go the day after.”

Steven Wiltshire’s brother, Kevin, 62, has worked at Enterprise Works for two days and is also at risk of losing his job.

He said: “The new documentation and the level of support is basically the same with a ‘friendlier’ interface. It seems that still no effort has been made to ensure that these vulnerable workers have independent support to guide them through the consultation.

“We feel that the workers should be assessed individually and if appropriate they should be allocated an independent advocate experienced in disability issues to make sure that their best interests are served.”

The current phase of the consultation period will end on October 15, but Mr Davis is frustrated Christine is still no closer to finding out what will happen to her

“It’s frustrating that this has been dragging on for weeks now, it’s really affecting Christine’s mental health. 

“The council should have ensured they got things right in the first place, because it’s not right to leave people with no idea about their futures for so long”

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for adults and health, said: “We recognise this is a really difficult time for all the employees affected, which is why we took the opportunity to extend the amount of time we were consulting with employees for, enabling us to better support individuals through this process.

“As part of our most recent meetings we received a number of questions which we were unable to answer at the time and we have committed to contact all employees this week to provide answers to all the questions we received.

“We have tried to be as transparent as possible throughout and we have also offered everyone support from Phoenix Enterprise during the consultation, to help them re-engage socially and enjoy activities that they have not been able to experience due to the pandemic."