On 28 March, transport union RMT held its first ever Disabled Members’ Conference. Rank-and-file activists had called for the establishment of this conference for several years, but repeatedly met with rejection by the union’s National Executive. But two years ago, RMT’s Annual General Meeting voted to overturn the Executive’s position, and this conference was the result.
Although it was quite small, it will prove itself to be a launchpad for transport workers organising against the many abuses of our and other disabled people’s rights. Delegates examined the TUC Manifesto for Disability Equality, and called for the union to act on issues including invisible impairments, the use of disciplinary policies against disabled workers, and the need for the union itself to provide materials in accessible formats.
The conference repeatedly stressed that our demands benefit disabled passengers as well as workers, and that the current fight to keep guards on trains is essential for disabled people’s access to public transport. The conference passed six resolutions, on: Attendance at Work Policies; Mental Health; the Social Model of Disability; an RMT Accessibility Audit; Disabled Workers and Austerity; and Autism and Neurodiversity.