Report: TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee meeting, 6 February 2014

The meeting took place on the final day of our 48-hour strike on London Underground and TfL. The Committee agreed to send a message of support to RMT and TSSA, and Committee members held a brief protest (in the pouring rain!) outside Tottenham Court Road station after the meeting. Photos of the protest have been circulated widely on social media.

Updates were given on progress with implementing the decisions of last year’s TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference. Unfortunately, this has been hampered by unions (including RMT) not sending in information requested after the previous meeting in November.

I updated the Committee on issues concerning Autism in the Workplace:

  • The briefing days for trade unionists continue to take place at WEA London and are always fully booked.
  • This training has now stepped up, with a Stage 2 briefing day to take place in April for people who have already attended one of the Stage 1 briefing days.
  • I have drafted a TUC Handbook on Autism in the Workplace. I am awaiting feedback from the TUC’s Disability Officer before it goes forward for publication, hopefully in April.
  • Teaching unions NUT and NASUWT are in dispute with the National Autistic Society about pay, conditions and union recognition in the charity’s schools. The Committee agreed to send a message of support to the two unions.

A seminar on hate crime will take place later this year, jointly hosted by all the TUC’s equality committees. The provisional date in 23 June – I suggested this date, as it will be the second anniversary of the murder of gay, autistic student Steven Simpson.

We agreed some arrangements for this year’s TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference. Guest speakers to be invited will be: Kate Green MP; John McDonnell MP; an African activist; one of the disabled people who took successful legal action over the bedroom tax, Independent Living Fund and/or Work Capability Assessment; and myself speaking on disabled access to public transport.

The TUC has produced, in conjunction with the Committee, a new briefing on Disabled People Fighting Austerity. Download it here. This is a useful document, with important information, ideas for action, and contact details for relevant campaigns.

The Committee agreed to support the ‘Keep Me Posted’ campaign, which aims to ensure that services to the public, such as banking, retain the option of using posted and paper communication.

The Committee received a report on a conference to discuss the role of trade unions in promoting disabled people’s rights in East Africa.

I have submitted this report to the RMT, together with some recommendations for progressing the issues covered.

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