FELCO - Responsibility: FELCO and the integration of persons with disabilities
Persons with disabilities have always been warmly welcomed within the Swiss company. We have seen this with Aurélie and Patrick.
Hyperactive Aurélie will conclude her"personnel, packaging and logistics training"with FELCO.
When Aurélie first joined FELCO she was shy. It is hard to believe seeing as she is extremely relaxed during the interview."I am no longer as shy, she explains, I have more self-confidence". From the offset, hyperactive Aurélie, integrated into the secure Alfaset workshop integrated as part of the FELCO establishments. Four months later, she was hired by the company.
Aurélie's integration was so smooth that it is difficult to find any issues which her disability may have provoked. Disability? Do not pronounce this term in front of Josiane Jacot, the HR Manger at FELCO."I dislike this term, I prefer to speak about somebody with integration difficulties".
Owing to her hyperactivity, the young girl must take medication on a daily basis."If I do not take my medication, I work at a slow pace and I am unable to concentrate". Apart from this difference, Aurélie works the same hours as her colleagues and is expected to achieve the same as them in terms of productivity. With one and a half days dedicated to training, Aurélie spends the majority of her time in the workshop, where she works on the packaging, logistics and testing.
Josiane sees Aurélie's integration as a real success."It is extremely rare to witness a person from a protected environment move into and integrate into an active professional environment". She also highlights that commitment from both the person and the company are required.
Josiane Jacot concludes:"I see Aurélie as an apprentice and not a person with a disability". And this is just how Aurélie wishes to be seen: as an apprentice. Nothing more, nothing less.
Since the age of 25, Patrick Vuillème has been working in FELCO workshops. Patrick is blind, and testament to the fact that a person with a disability can integrate within a company.
"Evidently, an oil distributor had to be especially made for me", explains Patrick Vuillème, who has been blind since birth."Its like putting toothpaste on your toothbrush and then trying to brush your teeth with your eyes closed: the toothpaste would go everywhere!", he continues with a big smile on his face.
Patrick began his schooling at a school for the blind in Lausanne, then he went to the secondary school (specializing in classics) in Cernier."I wanted to bridge the gap between the two schools, as I believe you integrate better into society if you study alongside everybody else". He took a mechanics apprenticeship at the specialist center in Morges which trains physically disabled persons.
Acquaintance with FELCO
In 1985, a former teacher helped him find work following a brief unemployment spell."I phoned FELCO. I met up with him and ten days later, I had secured a job".
For some years now, following on from workshop restructuring, the tasks assigned to Patrick have changed."I changed workshops and now I carry out five or six different jobs". Pinning, assembling knives to the clippers, hammering...."I have a different job almost every day, it is very interesting".
Special arrangements were required such as the oil distributor. Also, a press equipped with all the required safety elements. Apart from this?"Nothing special, I just need people to bring everything I require to do my job directly to me".
Relationships with colleagues
"My boss and my colleagues help me, they get my work ready for me", explains Patrick."Otherwise, I am completely independent". He is familiar with the"factory layout"and moves around independently."I am never accompanied by anybody".
Sometimes, he has to explain to colleagues on how they can help him."You shouldn't push a blind person as they may lack confidence. You should take them by the arm and talk to them". But,"on principal, I never refuse help".
The good relationship between Patrick and his colleagues is not just restricted to the workshop. A witness to this statement is Alic, who has been working with Patrick for 6 years,"when we organize a night out or a picnic after work, I go and pick him up".
With yet another smile on his face, Patrick ends the interview:"I even went bowling with my friends, but...not many skittles fell when it was my turn!