Exclusive: How the equality watchdog sacked a disabled army veteran and IRA bomb survivor by email
Late last year this blog featured the case of 57 year old Markus Caruana, who works in corporate communications at the Birmingham office of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.To recap
He is a former flute player in the Corps of Drums with the Grenadier Guards.
Markus Caruana was unfortunate enough to have been both at the Guildford pub bombings in 1974 and the Chelsea Barracks bombing in 1981 which seriously injured regimental bandsmen from the Irish Guards.
He escaped unscathed in both instances but saw three of his friends killed in an IRA attack in Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland.
He left the army in 1985 to become a landscape gardener and then took advantage of a Unison sponsored education scheme to learn to read and write.
He had been a school refuser after being bullied and could hardly read or write or read music but was able to play his flute because he had a natural memory for tunes.
In 2002 he secured a job with the Disability Rights Commission which later became part of the EHRC.
Sadly he lost his 75 per cent of his hearing and got an incurable muscle wasting disease called Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) which affects the nervous system that supports muscles, often weakening the legs and feet.
The EHRC had enabled him to have a support worker so he could do his job there – but she is also facing redundancy now he has failed to retain his job.
Yesterday he and five other disabled people was sacked by email by the EHRC and given 24 hours notice to clear his desk. He was one of ten people made compulsorily redundant by emails from executives from the Commission.
The decision led to a furious reaction from one of the main union representing staff,the PCS.
EHRC says the staff will receive pay in lieu of notice (PILON), but workers did not agree to this because it closes off the opportunity to seek redeployment at the commission or elsewhere in the civil service.
In a letter back to EHRC, the union states: “By imposing PILON you are cutting off this option and effectively consigning BME, disabled, women and trade union members to unemployment. There should only be PILON in cases where the individual concerned has agreed to it.”
Commenting on the cases, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It’s absolutely reprehensible that dedicated staff have been sacked and told to clear their desks with a day’s notice.
"That this has happened at the government body charged with upholding human rights and fair treatment in our society is an absolute scandal and we will continue to fight it.”
My own take on it is this. It is quite clear that the head of the EHRC, Rebecca Hilsenrath, is a particularly vindictive person to take action like this - by making it difficult for these people to get other jobs in the civil service.
Her action reminds me a bit of the attitude taken by Donald Trump towards disabled people. I am sure she would make an excellent addition to his staff in Washington though I don't know whether she would share his locker room talk or not.