#NQ3 TUC disabled workers conference – demanding rights demanding dignity

I was proud to represent Napo along with Ikki Bhogal at the annual TUC disabled workers conference. This year saw the relaunch of the TUC manifesto for disability equality.

Amongst the speakers was Frances O’Grady (TUC general secretary) who discussed the important progress that needs to be made to achieve equality and inclusion. The Disability Equality Roadshow made an appearance in between motions and Debbie Abrahams MP (shadow minister for disabled people) took evidence from delegates about a variety of issues affecting disabled people in employment and in daily life. The roadshow focuses on nine elements: social security, employment, housing, hate crime, public transport, media, care and social support, education and health. The at times very moving and passionate testimonies from delegates should help to shape future policy for the opposition.

We passed 22 motions at the conference and elected the disabled workers committee to carry out the work directed by those motions in the coming year. Ikki made a speech in support of a motion on support for workers with dyslexia noting the issues faced by Napo members in CRCs having reasonable adjustments ignored or withdrawn and expected to meet unrealistic targets. The traditional conference social event featured poetry readings and musical performances by delegates and guests and networking opportunities.

On the second day of conference we heard from John McDonnell MP (shadow chancellor of the exchequer).John is a fervent supporter of Napo and when we spoke to him he expressed his dismay at the situations faced by members in both the CRCs and the NPS. He sent a message of support as well as an exhortation to keep highlighting the issues so they can be raised in parliament. John gave a rousing speech to conference stating that it would be his job if in power to fund the TUC manifesto for disability equality through fair taxation. He also promised that he will stand with disabled trade unionists throughout the inevitable struggle ahead. The conference delegates rose to applaud when he told us we can succeed with courage, determination and solidarity.

The TUC manifesto for disability equality is a wide ranging document setting out the truth about the position of disabled people in Britain today and makes some ambitious demands to work towards equality and inclusion.

  • Legislation
    • Reinforcement and effective enforcement of the Public Sector Equality Duty and the extension of this duty to all employers and service providers including third party providers
    • Proper interpretation of the Equality Act Duty to make reasonable adjustments
    • A British Sign Language Act to give proper recognition to BSL
    • Improved recognition of disability hate crime and training rooted in the social model of disability for Judiciary and Police
    • All laws impacting on disabled people including the Equality Act to be reviewed and amended to comply with the UNCRPD
  • Support for disabled people and carers
    • Properly funded support for independent living
    • Effective employment rights and decent pay and working conditions for carers
    • An NHS trained, funded and resourced to support disabled people and carers
    • Current assessment systems for access to benefits to be replaced with a single assessment process designed jointly with disabled people
  • Greater support for disabled people at work and into work
    • End caps on access to work grants and increase the relevant budget combined with a programme to inform employers and disabled people about the support available
    • Sustained support for other employment programmes that have been proven to work such as work choice.
  • Support for disabled workers and students in education
    • Meet the needs of all disabled students within an inclusive education system
    • Reinstate the disabled students allowance
    • Meet the needs of disabled workers in education
  • Support for disabled people to participate in public life
    • Enable disabled people to play a full part in all areas of public life including the introduction of job sharing for elected representatives
  • Greater participation and accurate portrayal of disabled people in media, culture and arts and sport at all levels
    • Government to work with media, arts, culture and sports organisations and with disabled people to establish and monitor standards for portrayal and representation of disability and disabled people
  • Establishment and promotion of a national training standard based on the social model of disability for employers and service providers
    • Training based on the social model is essential to eliminate discrimination and to achieve equality and inclusion
    • A national disability training standard should be established and monitored through engagement with disabled people
  • Engagement with disabled people to promote equality internationally
    • Support for policies for inclusion and equality adopted by the European Disability Forum and support for disability equality across Europe and beyond

Katie Lomas
National Vice Chair


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