Securing the legacy of the year of disabled workers in Higher Education workplaces

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2023 National Higher Education Conference
13 October 2022

Conference notes the success of UNISON’s Year of Disabled Workers 2022. Throughout the year we saw renewed focus on the experience of disabled members in our union, in the workplace and in society, including those in the Higher Education service group.

We used the year to highlight the important contribution our disabled members make to the union, to improve terms and conditions for disabled workers including in Higher Education workplaces, and to campaign for improved rights for all disabled workers.

Conference notes the letter sent to all service groups by General Secretary Christina McAnea which called on the Higher Education service group to get fully behind the initiative, including by making the year of disabled workers a standing item on service group executive agendas and encouraging regions and branches to do likewise.

Christina also called of the following actions from the Higher Education service group:

1)Encourage all Higher Education branches to elect a disabled members officer or contact and register them for national training.

2)Support branches to negotiate with their employer to agree reasonable adjustment passport and disability leave policies, based on UNISON’s bargaining guides, and raise these at a national bargaining level where appropriate.

3)Work with and support regional and branch disabled members groups.

Conference welcomes the work that the Higher Education Service Group has undertaken to contribute to the success of the Year of Disabled Workers.

Conference acknowledges that tackling systemic and ingrained discrimination against disabled workers will take more than one year and we need to use the success of the year of disabled workers to continue our work and secure a lasting legacy for our members working in Higher Education.

Conference therefore resolves to ask the service group executive to work with the national disabled members committee to:

a) Seek to carry out an audit of Higher Education branches to assess:

i)where there is no agreed reasonable adjustment passport or policy

ii)where there is no agreed paid disability leave policy

iii)where there is no elected disabled members officer

b) Implement a disability equality bargaining strategy for the service group to address these policy gaps using UNISON’s two bargaining guides (Disability Leave guide and Reasonable Adjustments Policy and Passport guide) to negotiate locally.

c) Publicise UNISON’s now regular online Disabled Members Officers and Contacts training to Higher Education branches and consider setting a target for the number attending each year.

d) Circulate UNISON’s new Stewards Guide to Representing Disabled Members and our Guide to Representing Deaf (British Sign Language users) Members to activists in Higher Education branches and workplaces.