Flintshire man's 'disability not taken into account’

Reporter:

Matt Jones

FACTORY bosses did not take a disabled man’s condition into account before sacking him, an employment tribunal has heard.

William David Astbury, 52, of Connahs Quay, alleges Flint-based Nice-Pak International is guilty of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination after he contracted chronic fatigue syndrome in April 2008.

It was claimed the firm failed to consider the disability fully when offering an eight-week back to work programme for Mr Astbury who was sacked in November of that year.

Henry Vanderpump, representing Mr Astbury, said bosses failed to offer a longer programme despite medical advice which said recovery times from the condition were variable.

He said: “That is one factor of the disability. He does not know how long it would take to recover. If he had an unrealistic programme and could not have kept up with it, he could have been dismissed.”

After being on sick leave for several months Mr Astbury, who was described as a good worker, was dismissed for ill-health capability after refusing to start the programme.

Michael Bird, Nice-Park maintenance manager, said: “I did see the programme being feasible.

“It could have been extended, it could have been shortened. We needed some dates in there for Dave to work through, some goals for him to work to.”

The firm’s occupational health consultant did not object to the idea of an eight-week plan.

Other openings at the 570-worker factory on Aber Road were considered unsuitable because of their physical nature.

After Mr Astbury’s dismissal an appeal was taken to the firm’s personal manager, Deborah Thatcher, who did not overturn the decision.

She said: “I had tabled a 12-week programme. He was unwilling or unable to initiate the programme and as far as I was aware was only willing to do a 24-week programme.

“We were prepared to be flexible but a minimum of 24 weeks with no guarantees was not acceptable.”

Mr Astbury has yet to give evidence at the tribunal held at Abergele Town Hall, which has been adjourned until October 28.

See full story in the Leader

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