Disabled workers at Arlington Automotive are losing out to the tune of more than £1m in redundancy payments it has been claimed.
The claims regarding the Coventry-based company, which has fallen into administration, were made by the GMB Union, which has accused the company of “pushing their disabled workers into the gutter”.
The union claims 52 disabled workers are missing out on more than £1 million in redundancy payments.
It said that one worker at the company, which makes parts for Jaguar Land Rover, stands to lose more than £56,000 in redundancy pay accrued over a lifetime of service.
Around 600 jobs are under threat at Arlington, which counts names such as JLR and Nissan among its clients.
Administrators from Duff & Phelps were appointed to the UK trading companies of the firm, which specialises in products such as bespoke thermostats for vehicles and the manufacture and assembly of engineered vehicle systems.
The company’s UK operations are headquartered in Civentry, with bases in Birmingham, Manchester, Newton Aycliffe, Reading and Stourport while its Derby site had already commenced closure.
The GMB makes a number of accusations regarding the company’s treatment of disabled workers, including at least 20 staff members being told they were losing their jobs over the phone with immediate effect – despite some workers being hearing-impaired, non-verbal or unable to understand what was being explained.
The union said that on Monday May 18 several hearing-impaired workers turned up for their scheduled shifts having received no communication about their redundancies.
It branded the situation between Arlington and administrators Duff and Phelps as “dysfunctional” and said the automotive firm’s HR department only found out about the firm going into administration via the media.
GMB Organiser Becky Mitchell claimed the firm had made workers redundant by phone while not paying them settlements owed due to their service.
She said: “Arlington Automotive is pushing disabled workers into the gutter.
“At least 20 members of staff were called and (made redundant) over the phone. HR told our workers to go and claim money off the Government.
“They’re disabled, many of them can’t read or write, how are they going to do that?
“We won’t stand for this despicable treatment of our members, many of whom are disabled and suffer with mental health problems.
“The fact they are choosing to do this mid-pandemic shows you just how little they care for working people.”
In response the administrators said they would continue to have dialogue with the GMB and that consultation with workers was ongoing.
A spokesman for the joint administrators of Arlington Automotive said: “We have welcomed the dialogue with the GMB throughout this process and the support it is offering its members at this difficult time.
“The employees have been subject to ongoing consultation processes with the support of the GMB; and employees were all given notice of redundancy prior to our appointment, the Birmingham site itself was no longer operational.”
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The spokesman added: “Arlington Engineered Systems Limited could not continue to trade as all of its customers had stopped placing orders due to coronavirus.
“Given the wider backdrop of the difficulties in the automotive sector the business had no option but to appoint administrators.
“In relation to those made redundant the joint administrators took steps to communicate with employees at the earliest opportunity to explain the impact of the administration on the ongoing redundancy process.
“In doing so, to ensure employees safety the joint administrators adhered to government advice around social distancing when considering how to communicate with the employees and recruited a specialist firm in order to notify them and provide them with support in lodging their claims with the Redundancy Payments Service.
“The Redundancy Payments Service will meet employee claims subject to the statutory limits in place and any residual balances owed to the employees will be claimable in the administration process.”