A DISABLED man has lost his job at a Greenock leisure centre after 17 years – after bosses said they couldn’t afford his £30 a week wages.

Ronnie Hawthorn, 47, was told by Inverclyde Leisure bosses that they couldn’t continue to pay him to work at the Waterfront complex pool.

To add insult to injury he was told he could still continue on a voluntary basis and attend staff nights out.

Ronnie, who has Down’s Syndrome, said: “I feel a bit sad. I worked there for a long time.”

Ronnie worked for eight hours a week over two days and was paid for approximately 3.7 hours and the rest was voluntary.
His parents recently received a telephone call from a manager inviting them in for a meeting.

His dad Ronald, 69, said: “He explained to me that it was down to cutbacks but that Ronnie could still come in on a voluntary basis and nights out at Christmas.”

Mr Hawthorn relayed this to his wife Anne and said he would ask Ronnie what he wanted to do when his letter came in.

But they say no letter arrived and Ronald contacted the manager to ask about redundancy.

Ronald and Anne went in for a second meeting and were told that there would be no redundancy or compensation. The family, who live in Kingston Dock, heard nothing else until a P45 came through their door.

Anne, 68, a former secretary and administrator for Barnardo’s, said: “I think it’s a disgrace. He’s been doing that job perfectly for 17 years. 

“He has always been a conscientious worker and even when he was ill with cellulitis or arthritis, I always sent in a sick note.

“It works out at about £30 a week, and that’s what got to me more than anything else. We’ve been feeling bad about it. I feel it’s the vulnerable who are being pushed out.”

Anne says her son felt a real sense of pride in earning his own money.

She said: “He loved the job.

“He liked working with the other people who didn’t have a disability and loved all the banter and the jokes.

“He liked getting his payslip every month and he got his pay paid into his bank account. He used to save it up for his holidays and show the payslip to his nieces and nephews. It’s not about the money.

“It’s the lack of respect.”

The couple told the Telegraph they feel the situation has been handled very badly.

Anne said: “It was a phone call and came right out the blue and there was not even as much as a thank-you.

“There should have been a wee redundancy payment or a presentation.

“It’s not a nice thing to do to people.

“I think it’s rotten the way he has been treated and we wanted to bring it the public’s attention, so it won’t happen to anyone else.”

Although Ronnie initially went back on a voluntary basis for a few weeks he now feels uncomfortable about the situation and has decided not to go back.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Leisure said: “We are disappointed that Ronnie’s parents now feel this way after an agreement had been reached and we are meeting again to discuss this matter.”

“We are confident a solution will be found, as Ronnie is a well thought of and respected employee of Inverclyde Leisure.”

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council, who own the leisure centre, said: “Staffing and any recruitment choices made by Inverclyde Leisure are an operational matter for the management of Inverclyde Leisure.”