Report: TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee, 5 July 2016

Election of co-Chair: Sean McGovern, the Disabled Workers’ representative on TUC General Council, chairs the Committee. I was re-elected unopposed as co-Chair for another year.


Action on Resolutions from Disabled Workers Conference

In carrying out the decisions of the TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference in May, we are planning various actions, listed below. Everything we do comes under the umbrella of fighting for our Manifesto for Disability Equality

  • continuing to campaign against benefit cuts
  • mobilising for actions by DPAC and others (including PIP protests)
  • promoting positive images of disabled workers (while avoiding patronising ‘inspiration’  narrative), especially positive images of disabled workers fighting back through trade unions; building on the ‘vox pop’ videos filmed at Conference
  • promoting the social model of disability
  • continuing to respond to government consultations
  • taking part in the Labour Party’s disability equality roadshow
  • submitting a resolution to TUC Congress on the Work Capability Assessment and its links to suicide
  • inviting Unionlearn to give a presentation on workplace resources on mental health; working with the TUC to produce a model workplace policy (note: NUT has a charter for mentally-healthy workplaces and Northern Region TUC has some useful materials)
  • supporting Dyslexia Week, 3-9 October
  • supporting Equity’s campaigns for inclusive casting
  • opposing staff cuts at the Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • supporting the Sarah Reed Campaign for Justice
  • on education
    • supporting teaching unions in resisting government cuts
    • campaigning against the shocking situation where there are 2,700 vacancies for Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) in schools
    • sending solidarity to the strike action taking place as we met (we sent a representative to the rally)
    • working with the TUC Race Relations Committee to campaign for acces to education for disabled refugees
  • on transport
    • sending solidarity greetings to rail workers striking to keep guards on trains on Southern, Scotrail and any other company which threatens to remove them
    • seeking a meeting with the new Mayor of London to discuss disability issues, including hate crime and transport accessibility
    • supporting Action for Rail
    • seeking a meeting with the new Shadow Transport Secretary
    • supporting RMT reps’ attempts to raise with the EHRC London Underground’s actions in removing all seated staffing roles on its station


Conference feedback

  • Registration: 25 unions, 192 delegates, 14 visitors, 12 observers, 4 exhibitions, 4 media
  • Overall, high feedback score
  • Response to monitoring disappointing, so resulting statistics not particularly helpful
  • We identified and discussion some possible measure to improve access
  • We are looking into the possibility of using a different, more accessible venue in future years


Labour Party:

  • Although the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee can not take a stance on the current leadership dispute, we congratulated Debbie Abrahams on her promotion from Shadow Minister for Disabled People to Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and looked forward the appointment of new Shadow Ministers for Disabled People and for Mental Health.
  • During the break, many members of the Committee signed a letter in support of Jeremy Corbyn.
  • I reported on the Labour leadership’s support for an autism/neurodiversity manifesto, and the progress with developing this.


Social media and reaching new audiences

Riz Hussain explained the TUC’s strategy for increasing its social media profile, including: blogging (Touchstone, StrongerUnions); memes; Twitter. There was some discussion about the limits created by top-down running of TUC social media – more access for activists and Committee members would make it more lively. However, there is still much that can be done to post and circulate material.


Disability History Month.

  • This year, we want to have a specific trade union profile in DHM.
  • It runs from 22 November to 21 December, and this years theme is Language.
  • We set up a sub-group (Janine, Tony, Lynda, Mark, Annie) to discuss plans. Watch this space!
  • More information here.


Taxi drivers’ disability awareness training

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has a proposed Private Members Bill requiring taxi driver disability awareness training. We supported this in principle.

I raised the issue of the need to defend (accessible, accountable) public licensed taxis against an increasing predatory private hire sector. This will be raised with Guide Dogs for the Blind in the hope of including it in the bill.

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