Report: TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee meeting, 16 March 2017

pic: Committee co-Chairs, Sean McGovern and Janine Booth



We have set up campaign working groups to get more work done on key issues:

  • Employment Support Allowance / Personal Independence Payments
  • Access to Work
  • Precarious Contracts
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Access to Public Transport
  • Disability History Month

I will be convening the working group on accessible transport


Keep the Guard on the Train

Under the General Council report, I raised the issue of the TUC’s role in brokering a deal between ASLEF and Southern Rail (which ASLEF members then rejected), excluding RMT, and allowing trains to run without a guard. Keeping guards on trains is a key demand of disabled people, in order to enable access and assistance when travelling. The Committee sent a strong message to the TUC leadership that it thought its role in this was unacceptable, and that it supports RMT’s fight to keep the guard on the train.


Disabled Workers’ Conference, 18-19 May

  • Motions – 19 have been submitted; we accepted all as being in order, with slight revisions requested to some: subjects covered include Britain leaving the EU; disabled women and domestic violence; mental health; the social model of disability; DWP closures; disabled performers; driver-only operation train services
  • Emergency motion – The Committee agreed to submit an emergency motion on recent government attacks on benefits
  • Guest speakers – Mary Bousted (TUC President); Paul Novak (TUC Assistant General Secretary); Tara Flood (Alliance for Inclusive Education); Aileen Gallagher, Unite young workers’ rep; to be confirmed, Ken Loach (film-maker)
  • Chairing – the four conference chairs will be Sean McGovern, Janine Booth, Mandy Hudson and Tony Sneddon; after conference, training will be arranged so that other committee members can chair in future
  • Committee election – there are 15 candidates for the main section of 14 seats, so a vote will take place at conference; representatives of women and black disabled workers were elected unopposed; there was no nomination for a representative of LGBT disabled workers
  • Informal session – will be about mental health
  • Fringe meetings – The Committee agreed to support a fringe meeting on the Labour Party Autism / Neurodiversity Manifesto, with John McDonnell and myself


Congress House accessibility

Committee members and others conducted an access audit of TUC headquarters Congress House in February, and while some improvements might be made, there are serious obstacles, particularly regarding the lifts. The Committee agreed to submit an emergency motion to Disabled Workers’ Conference – hopefully to then be submitted to TUC Congress – to improve access and, until this is achieved, to hold Disabled Workers’ Conference at an alternative, accessible venue.


Unionlearn apprenticeships programme

Unionlearn is preparing materials for unions on negotiating for quality apprenticeship. The Committee was asked for input to ensure that young disabled people’s issues are included in this. The Committee was particularly concerned that apprenticeships should lead to jobs; and that control of apprenticeships for disabled workers is not handed over to the big charities, which often do not adequately support workers’ rights and trade unions.


Opposing benefits sanctions

The Committee agreed to support and publicise the day of action against benefits sanctions on Thursday 30 March, organised by Unite Community.

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