West Tyrone based clothing company TAL is facing accusations of ‘over-equality’ policies following complaints by employees based at its Strabane premises. The firm has raised eyebrows after it posted a position for shop floor line manager, noting that a black Vietnamese protestant gay male worker would be given first preference to fill the role.
In seeking to promote positive discrimination (similar to that used by the PSNI to balance the religious representation on its force when first introduced, by giving Roman Catholic applicants an advantage with regards to filling posts), company director Martin King has tried to apply the same logic with his operations.
“It came to me in a dream while I was on a surf holiday in Bali. What our wee country needs is racial, religious and sexual equality across the board. We hope to set a new standard here. If this place is to move forward with the rest of the world we all need to be equals, just like at the beginning of that book Animal Farm” he said.
What is more apparent than the fact that Mr King did not read all of Animal Farm, is his employees have had enough. Miss Rose Parkes, from East Belfast, recently quit TAL and had some scathing words regarding Mr Kings attempts to promote a new ‘big’ society.
“He is mad in the head mate. First off he came back from his hippy adventure round the world with dreadlocks and all and just announced that all toilets were to be unisex. So, here’s me to myself – I’m not using them toilets no more. I’m gonna wait till I get home, or go to the wee bakery next door. I was never in them toilets since. He’s a sky rocket. I’d rather be waiting on a giro than put up with that muck”
Mr King told us about how Stormont could take a leaf from his book in leading the way with equal opportunity strategy, however he does concede that costs involved in implementing such procedures and policies are high.
“We had our prayer room constructed late last year, and unfortunately after we took on two great Muslim embroiderers we had to have them taken down and re-built to face the Kaaba in Mecca. That was sore on us but it’s all a learning curve for us. I introduced 9 months paternity leave to balance the male to female rights to time off following childbirth. Also, we now do not accept either man flu or period pains as a reason to stay off work. AIDS is fine though as it effects both sexes equally.”
King has had all religious holidays banned and all his workers must work Good Friday and Christmas. The company’s new range of clothing, aptly named ‘peacekeepers’, to be released next July just ahead of the marching season include “Feinhun” versatile wooly hats and poppy-lilly t-shirts; although there is still an ongoing debate as to which flower gets to be positioned on the front of the garment.