Securing the legacy of the year of disabled workers in WET workplaces

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2023 National Water, Environment & Transport Conference
21 February 2023

Conference notes the success of UNISON’s Year of Disabled Workers 2022. With the year now over, we have seen renewed focus on the experience of disabled members in our union, in the workplace and in society, including those in the WET service group.

We used the year to highlight the important contribution our disabled members make to the service group, to improve terms and conditions for disabled workers including in WET 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 WET 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 WET service group:

1. Encourage all WET 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 WET Service Group has undertaken over the year to deliver on these asks.

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 WET.

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

A) Carry out an audit of WET branches to assess:

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

b)where there is no agreed paid disability leave policy

c)where there is no elected disabled members officer

B) Implement a disability equality bargaining strategy 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 WET 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 WET workplaces.