Making UNISON truly disability friendly

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2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2023
Carried as Amended

Conference believes that Unison needs to be leading the way in helping to resolve the issues that we face as disabled members and making us feel true participants in the workings of our union.

Conference notes that:

• There are at least 9.8m people with a disability in the UK (source: ONS)

• Around 21% of working age adults are disabled (source: Gov.UK)

• 21% of Unison members = 273,000 disabled Unison members

• If 80% of disabilities are non-visible this equates to 218,400 members

We, at this conference understand our own disabilities and the way that we overcome the challenges that life throws at us – whether at work, at home or within our recreational lives – but how well do we understand enough about the challenges that the person sitting beside us might face? We cannot possibly understand, as there are so many types and sub-types of disability that affect us in an individual way.

The way we overcome our disabilities can be complex. We know that the social model of disability gives us clarity about how barriers in our way can stop us from taking a full part in society. But how many of us can say that we are not frustrated by the obstacles and disrespect that we regularly face?

Our reps tell the employer that they should make meetings disability friendly. And yet one of the issues for disabled members is that our own chairs of Unison branches and regional and national meetings may not always consider nor ask what we need as disabled people so that we can fully take part in meetings.

Conference therefore calls on the National Disabled Members National Committee to:

1)Engage with regional disabled members SOGs to formulate a ‘train the trainer’ package, aimed at educating activists who are chairs of meetings (branch, regional and national) on the different types of disabilities and how they can better deliver disability inclusive meetings

2. Engage with Unison College on how to deliver on the training package. This must include the requirement for only volunteers from the regional disabled members SOGs to undertake the training so that disabled members will be lay tutors for this purpose.

3. Urge regions and national committees to take part in this initiative, to include this Chairperson training as a regular feature in their training offers

4. Urge branches, regions and national committees to support this initiative and undertake this training for Chair people as a priority.