After two years during which disabled members have faced unprecedented challenges, UNISON has made 2022 the year of disabled workers.
As part of the year, new resources have been created to help branches and regions organise events and initiatives locally and an extended programme of national campaigning, organising and training events will also be organised.
Angela Hamilton and Katrina Murray, who represent disabled members on UNISON’s NEC, welcomed the initiative. Angela said: “This is an exciting opportunity to showcase the skills, experience and qualities that disabled people bring to the workplace and to society.
“It’s vital we speak out against disability discrimination, challenge negative stereotypes and work to remove barriers that stop disabled people achieving their goals. Together, we can create a society where disabled people are valued for who we are.”
Katrina added: “I think the year of disabled workers will provide a really positive perspective on all aspects of disability and working within public services. Hopefully it will be a springboard for more disabled members of UNISON to become active at all levels within the union.
“I’d really encourage branches to get involved and take action to promote positive images and inclusion of their disabled members not only this year but also to take these principles and ideas forward every year from now.”
Originally, it was decided to make 2021 the year of disabled workers, after a motion submitted by South Lanarkshire Branch was passed at UNISON’s National Delegate Conference in 2019, but it was subsequently delayed to 2022 due to the pandemic.
Speaking on the subject, Iain Scott-Burdon, outgoing chair of National Disabled Members Committee and a deaf member, and British Sign Language (BSL) user in local government, said: “There are 200,000 disabled members in UNISON and we bring a wealth of experience, skills and passion to our union.
“This year is all about raising awareness of our disabled members, celebrating our contribution to the union, and getting employers to give disabled workers the support they should be getting by law.
“For example, having a BSL interpreter with me at work means I can do my job as well as anyone else. But lots of disabled workers don’t realise what they are entitled to or don’t have an employer who is willing to support them.
“I hope all branches, regions and service groups will get involved.”
Resources and events can be found at the year’s dedicated webpage: