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2016 National Disabled Members' Conference
5 July 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference, many of you will have woken up in dismay at the outcome of the European Referendum. While the outcome of the vote was clear what happens next is not. There is no timetable or exit strategy in place for the UK to leave the EU.

Disabled Members are concerned that we will not only lose workers’ rights that are underpinned by EU legislation but that the anti-discrimination legislation we rely on will be repealed.

The Human Rights Act is not EU law but the proposal to replace it with a UK Bill of Rights will be much easier to implement once we leave the EU. We are signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights, but relying on this to enforce our rights is expensive, time consuming and beyond the reach of many disabled people.

At its best the campaign enabled genuine debate and discussion in our homes, workplaces and communities about the future of the economy and the kind of country we want to live in. At its worst, the campaign was typified by hatred, vitriol and misinformation that have done a huge disservice to our democracy and the values we hold so dear.

It will be some time before we fully understand what impact the vote to leave will have on disabled people but the increase in discrimination and prejudice in the days after the referendum shows us that we cannot be complacent. We can’t simply wait and see what the outcome will be.

Conference, we welcome UNISON’s quick response to the referendum. We applaud the commitment to holding the leave campaigners to the promises they made – that there will be more money for the NHS, and that our rights at work will remain intact. But we know we will need to work hard to make this happen.

Disabled Members are living in uncertain times and all political leaders must think about how to address the issues that we face. Issues such as falling incomes, insecure jobs, unaffordable housing, an under-resourced NHS, increasing discrimination and other huge challenges facing disabled people after more than half a decade of cuts.

All of the evidence shows that the women have borne the brunt of the effects of austerity cuts since the election of the coalition government in 2010. Disabled women have therefore been doubly affected as women and as disabled people.

Conference, members are appalled to find that since the EU referendum there has been an increase in hate crimes, and whether these be gender-related, LGBT, Black or disability hate crime there is no place in society for this.

Conference, branches must do what they can to support disabled workers in the workplace. And, nationally, UNISON must do all it can to protect the rights that disabled people have fought so hard to secure. Conference calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to work with the NEC, Labour Link, and other Self Organised Groups to:

1. seek to ensure trade unions and disabled people are included in exit negotiations

2. campaign for disabled people’s rights to be protected in the exit strategy

3. consider calling for a referendum on any final deal to be held prior to UK leaving the EU

4. issue advice and guidance to branches on hate crime and how to support disabled members who are victims both in and outside the workplace.