Report: TUC Disabled Workers Committee meeting, 17 March 2016
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Updates on ongoing work

  • ‘You don’t look disabled’ briefing for union reps on ‘invisible/hidden’ disabilities, available here.
  • Disability Labour contact details are here.
  • Seminar on ‘Equality and mental health in an age of austerity’ - report online here.
  • Griffiths v DWP appeal lost, but the judgment contained some wording that was an improvement on the original ruling. Full judgment here.
  • Meeting held with BBC to urge it to improve representation of diversity – “very constructive”.

 

Campaign update

The TUC launched our Manifesto for Disability Equality in January. Download it here.

Little media coverage. Some endorsement have been collected so far from individuals, union branches and a Constituency Labour Party.

We made planned to campaign for the Manifesto and build a higher profile and more support for it, including:

  • fringe meeting at TUC Congress
  • high profile for the Manifesto on TUC website, with a ‘click to endorse’ button
  • focusing on the disability benefit cuts – “make it the Tory Party’s new Poll Tax”!

The two co-Chairs and TUC staff met Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People – a useful meeting that included discussing trade union input into the Labour Party’s disability roadshow.

We agreed a drive to publicise and explain to social model of disability to trade unionists.

 

TUC Disabled Workers' Conference

All motions accepted as being in order.

Chairs allocated for Conference sessions (I will be chairing the opening session).

Keynote speaker to be John McDonnell MP.

Labour Party disability roadshow to be held at Conference on Thursday afternoon, chaired by Sean McGovern. Further discussion at next meeting on structure of this.

Committee to hold a fringe meeting jointly with Disabled People Against Cuts on organising direct action.

Committee to submit an emergency motion on the attacks on disability benefits in the Budget.

Election of next year’s Disabled Workers’ Committee - all nominations accepted as valid.

  • Ballot required at  Conference for Section A (general: 17 candidates for 14 places)
  • Section  B (black member) Julian Allam (Unite) elected unopposed
  • Section C (LGBT member) and Section D (woman member): no nominations received – agreed to reopen nominations and hold election at Conference if necessary.

 

EU referendum, equality and disabled people

Sally Brett, senior policy officer at the TUC’s Economic and Social Affairs Department, gave the Committee a presentation on the likely impact on disabled workers’ rights and benefits of UK withdrawal from the EU, and outlined why TUC policy is for a vote to remain.

 

Know your rights – Reasonable Adjustments

The Committee agreed the text of a ‘know your rights’ guide on reasonable adjustment for disabled workers. This will be published soon.

 

UK Disability History Month

We will organise a specific trade union involvement in Disability History Month this year (22 November – 22 December 2016). The theme is disability and language.

We may organise an event. I also suggested collating trade union materials on disability (eg. leaflets, journal articles) from different times in history, and putting together an exhibition both online and in physical form to tour during the month.

The first meeting of the new Committee – at the end of Disabled Workers’ Conference in May – will elect a small sub-committee to draft proposals.

 

Sarah Reed Justice Campaign

The Committee agreed to support the Sarah Reed Campaign for Justice (Facebook group here). Sarah was a young British black woman who suffered mental ill health after losing her baby. She was assaulted by a Metropolitan Police Officer and when in hospital, she was a victim of an attempted rape but was arrested. While on remand, Sarah was found dead in her prison cell on 11 January 2016.

 

DWC leaflet

We agreed a leaflet to introduce the Disabled Workers’ Committee and its work. This will be available for download soon.