UNISON battles to keep Dorset Enterprises open

A trade union is refusing to allow the council to close a factory staffed by workers with disabilities.

Earlier this month, Bournemouth’s Cabinet made the decision to close Dorset Enterprises in order to save money. But the council is still in the process of setting up an action group with the Job Centre in order to help its employees.

“They have no idea what exactly they are going to do,” said Jannie Miller, of UNISON, Britain’s biggest public sector trade union, “but we are still trying to save the factory.”

UNISON is pushing councilors to vote against the decision and also calling local residents to vote online to force a debate with the council. “Even if the factory closed, we would still look for the legal challenge,” said Mrs Miller.

Earlier, Councilor Blair Crawford, portfolio holder for Adult Social Care in Bournemouth, said “Dorset Enterprises staff are people with real skills.”

Mrs Miller said UNISON agreed on this point and said that’s why they still believe that Dorset Enterprises can still make a profit under proper management and support.

Mrs Miller doubted that the action group has the ability to deal with “this very complex issue” since every individual may have their own needs.

“Dorset Enterprises has been providing supported employment for people with disabilities in Dorset for nearly 100 years,” she said.

“It’s not only a factory to those staff who spent years working there, it’s their life, it’s their home it’s their social circle.” she said. “It’s very devastating to anybody to lose the job.”

Main image credit: Nick Efford

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