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2013 National Disabled Members' Conference
2 July 2013

This Conference recognises that in this current political climate the Tory-led Coalition Government is systematically eroding the employment and civil rights of disabled people, it is therefore crucial that UNISON ensures activists are fully equipped with the skills and knowledge to assist them in challenging public service cuts and to deal with discrimination cases being faced by our disabled members. Disability discrimination is wide ranging and complex and from experience the London region has been able to establish trends in the issues that many activists seek further union advice on, these include:

• Who now has anti-discrimination rights according to the law?

• What questions should I ask?

• Might Occupational Health be useful?

• Where can I look for advice on reasonable adjustments

• Is disability an organising issue?

Monitoring stewards’ enquiries has led the Greater London Region Disabled Members’ Committee (GLR RDMC) to seek staff resources and funding to develop a half day bite size seminar entitled “Disability Discrimination – is it illegal?” to enable and empower members to address these issues. The first seminar, in July 2012 was well attended by a diverse range of activists representing different branches, services and level of trade union activity. Feedback from delegates was very positive with regard to handling members’ discrimination cases and to support the union’s organising objective.

This type of training can be a cost-effective, it requires relatively little local negotiation for paid time off work and can best be made effective by making it available to all branch activists. As public service cuts bite harder and we witness more savage assaults on members’ terms and conditions disabled members more than ever need to know that they are going to be represented by activists who are fully aware of how to use disability discrimination legislation. Such an investment in our activists can improve protection to disabled members’ jobs and the lifeline services they rely upon such as the Department for Work and Pensions Access to Work Scheme which is under threat also due to government changes in eligibility criteria.

This Conference instructs the National Disabled Members’ Committee to:

1)Work with the GLR RDMC to develop a bite size seminar based on the Greater London model which can be offered to other regions to enable more UNISON activists to develop their awareness of disability discrimination aspects of the Equality Act 2010

2)Explore related GLR DMG initiatives to promote disability as a trade union organising opportunity.