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Report: TUC Disabled Workers' Committee, 13 November 2013

Submitted by Janine on 9 September 2014 at 18:44

- Sean McGovern and Mandy Hudson were elected as co-Chairs of the TUC Disabled Workers' Committee (DWC).

Committee membership
- There is a vacancy for a women's seat on the Committee. This has been notified to unions.

Timing of meetings
- I raised a concern that this, the first meeting of the DWC for this electoral period, was taking place six months after we were elected, an unnecessary and unhelpful delay. Other Committee members shared this concern, and we agreed that in future years, the first meeting would take place in July.

TUC Disabled Workers' Conference report and actions
- Documents containing all the resolutions and the Committee's planned actions are available (I can email them to anyone who would like to see them).
- The following are of particular note:

Sickness absence / attendance management
- The TUC has updated guidance on sickness absence and disability discrimination, here.

- The DWC wishes to compile a supplementary briefing on the Bradford Factor, but this relies on affiliates sending information.
- I proposed an additional action of compiling a database of employer policies, to enable comparison.
- The TUC is interested in the legal advice RMT obtained to the effect that using disciplinary procedures to deal with sickness absence may be unlawful.

Workers with disabled children
- DWC is collecting examples from unions to include in campaign briefing.
- DWC will work with TUC departments (Equality and Employment Rights, Economic and Social Affairs) on demands for legal rights.

Autism in the Workplace
- Information on the RMT/WEA training course was distributed to DWC members.
- I am to draft a TUC Handbook on Autism in the Workplace, together with a leaflet for use in workplaces and a model article for union journals, aiming for this to be launched during April, which is Autism Awareness Month.

Steven Simpson
- The appeal against the judgment in the trial of Steven's killer was unsuccessful, and we are not aware of any ongoing process or campaigning.
- I have found out since the meeting that Ian Mearns MP is proposing a Parliamentary Bill about hate crime against people with learning disability and autism.

- The TUC is planning to hold a seminar about hate crime next summer, involving all the equality groups so that different types of hate crime are addressed (race, sexuality, disability, etc) - I suggested that if possible, this could be held on 23 June, the second anniversary of Steven's murder.

Results of gender/race/sexuality/disability/age monitoring at TUC Congress and Disabled Workers' Conference
- The statistics show some worrying results, but the low response rate makes the statistics less reliable than they might be. Various ways of increasing response rates were discussed.

Disabled people fighting austerity
- A new draft document was discussed.
- As well as information on how austerity is affecting disabled people, it contains useful advice on working with campaigns such as DPAC, and making our own campaigning events more accessible to disabled people.
- It points out that even the majority of trade union members accept the right-wing propaganda about benefit claimants being 'scroungers', and asks trade union to do more to tackle this.

UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission is preparing a 'parallel report' alongside the UK government's report on the implementation of the Convention; however, it has asedk disabled people's organisations to submit their view by choosing priorities for areas of rights; the DWC rejected this approach, and will instead work with Disability Rights Watch UK in preparing an alternative report.

UK Disabled People's Manifesto
- DWC will propose amendments to the policy, particularly to replace the section advocating quotas in employment with a more progressive policy.
- I raised a concern that the section on transport does not adequately promote staffing levels as an access issue.
- Proposed amendments must be submitted to Peter Purton at the TUC by 13 December.

Disability rights in East Africa
- TUC Aid is supporting projets to promote the rights of disabled people in East Africa and seeks the support of unions.
- This was also presented as a 'way in' to discussing broader equalities issues with trade unions in the area, so I raised the issues of LGBT rights in Uganda. the response was that Ugandan trade unions are privately supportive of LGBT rights, but publicly quiet on the issue - the TUC will be raising LGBT issues with the ITUC next year.


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