National Disabled Members' Conference 2017 Resolutions

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Circular No: NP/152/17
Our Ref: EO/27

TO ALL BRANCHES, REGIONAL OFFICES & REGIONAL COUNCILS

2nd October 2017

Dear Colleague,

THE NATIONAL DISABLED MEMBERS’ CONFERENCE 2017

I write with regards to the above matter and to inform you that the resolutions which were successfully passed at this year’s National Disabled Members’ Conference have now been considered by the union’s National Executive Committee. The resolutions together with the NEC decisions are as follows:-

1)    Disabled Workers and Attendance at Work Policies
 
“This conference believes that employers are using attendance at work policies to drive disabled members out of their jobs and to coerce members to attend work and/or carry out duties which are not suitable for them to do.

This conference asks the union to rigorously defend disabled members being persecuted under attendance policies, and to demand of all employers that they review these policies to ensure that they are not mistreating or discriminating against disabled staff.”

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“We instruct the General Secretary to raise with lead officers.”

2)    Improving RMT Policy and Activity On Mental Health

“THIS BRANCH NOTES THAT:

1.         One in four people will suffer from mental health problems at some point in their life (Source: Mind UK).
2.         Suicide is now the likeliest cause of death for men between 20 and 49.
3.         RMT passed policy on mental health at its 2015 Annual General Meeting.

THIS BRANCH BELIEVES THAT:

1.    Just as capitalism causes physical health problems, often through industrial accidents and unsafe working environments, so too does it cause many mental health issues, including by subjecting us to exploitation and alienation.

2.    In our industries in particular, mental health difficulties can be caused or worsened by factors such as: sleep-unfriendly shift work; anti-social working hours diminishing contact with friends and family; verbal and physical abuse; traumatic incidents at work; excessive workload; bullying, harassment and aggressive management; insecure employment such as zero-hours contracts; pressure from harsh performance and attendance regimes.

3.         Campaigning for less distressing workplaces and helping our members better deal with the pressures capitalism places on our mental wellbeing is part of our duty as a socialist trade union.

THIS BRANCH FURTHER BELIEVES THAT:

1.    Mental health issues are not treated with the attention they deserve.

2.    There is still much stigma associated with mental health.

3.    Austerity cuts are both causing mental distress and reducing the services available to those who develop mental health problems.

4.    The union can do more to campaign for less distressing working conditions and to support our members in seeking help with mental health issues.

5.         Members will benefit from access to reps trained in how best to support and advise members in the workplace.

THIS BRANCH CALLS ON THE UNION TO:

1.    Continue with its mental health awareness training courses, and ensure that all members know which reps in their region and/or company have been on this training and can provide them with support and advice; although our reps cannot substitute for trained medical professionals, they could act as a source of advice, support, and guidance in the workplace.

2.    Include content about mental health in training of all workplace representatives, particularly health and safety representatives.

3.         Draw up a model policy for mentally-healthy transport workplaces, including the following demands:
•          all risk assessments to assess risks to mental as well as physical health
•          shorter hours, more leave, fewer extreme shifts
•          sickness absence related to mental health not to be punished
•          occupational health departments to be equipped to support workers with mental health problems
•          full and sympathetic support for workers who experience assault or trauma at work
•           quiet rooms and other relaxation provision

4.         Make mental health the theme of next year’s National Health and Safety Advisory Conference.

5.    Support and attend the mental health seminars held annually by the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee

6.    Mobilise for protests against cuts to and closures of mental health services, in conjunction with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Mental Health Resistance Network.

7.    Take steps to ensure that our union is welcoming to all members, and conducts its business in a comradely way that does not cause unwarranted distress to its members or activists.

8.    Take advice on the implementation this resolution from our newly-formed Disabled Members’ Advisory Committee, and seek the assistance of the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee.

9.         Dedicate the 2017 National Health and Safety Advisory Conference to the memory of Brother Leon Brumant, our comrade, who was an elected Health and Safety rep on London Underground and who passed away in April 2016, and to circulate an announcement of this dedication to all branches and delegates.“

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we note the resolution from the National Disabled Members’ Conference.  We commit to continue courses on mental health awareness and supporting reps in order to advise and support including encouraging full time and lay officials to attend, and incorporate mental health awareness in other courses we provide.  We note the call for a model policy on mental health awareness in the workplace and seek to develop one.  We note the request regarding the Health and Safety conference is a matter dealt with separately.  We commit the union to continue to monitor the issue of mental health awareness and we will be vigilant in keeping this at the forefront of the health and safety agenda.”

3) Social Model of Disability

“THIS CONFERENCE NOTES THAT:

1.    for many years, disability was viewed as entirely a medical issue, with disabled individuals needing either a cure, pity or exclusion from society

2.    from the 1970s, the radical, self-organised movement of disabled people developed a new way of understanding disability, showing that society disables impaired individuals; this became known as the ‘social model of disability’

3.    the labour movement and disabled people’s movement support the social model; governments and employers often claim to support it but do not apply it in practice

4.    capitalism impairs many people, for example through workplace injuries and through wars, and then fails to adequately maintain and support the people it impairs

THIS CONFERENCE RESOLVES THAT RMT:

1.    endorse and adopt the social model of disability

2.    ensures that its campaigning and collective bargaining is based on this, demanding that employers remove barriers to disabled workers, and avoiding patronising or ‘pity campaigning’

3.    train its activists, officers and Executive members in understanding and applying the social model of disability

4.         circulate materials from the TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee on the social model.”

Note:

This resolution was submitted to the AGM.

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we note the AGM resolution and that a number of the aspects are already carried out.  We will continue to support the promotion and understanding of the social model of disability.”

4) Accessibility Audit

“This conference resolves that RMT conduct an audit of the accessibility of all its premises, events and activities, and take measures to improve their accessibility to disabled members and visitors, considering the full range of disabilities.”

Note:

This resolution was submitted to the AGM.

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we note the AGM decision and instruct the General Secretary to conduct an audit of union premises and place the matter back before the NEC.”  

5) Disabled Workers and Austerity

“THIS CONFERENCE NOTES THAT:

1.    disabled people are among the hardest hit by austerity policies

2.    disabled people have had benefits and support cut, have been driven off benefits, have died shortly after being found ‘fit to work’, and have even been driven to suicide

3.    the government and media encourage people in work to resent and be hostile to people out of work and/or claiming benefits, leading to a significant rise in verbal and physical attacks on disabled people

4.   disabled people have fought back against austerity, particularly since the formation in 2010 of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), to which RMT is affiliated.

THIS CONFERENCE RESOLVES THAT THE UNION:

1.    continue to support DPAC and oppose austerity

2.    publish an article in RMT News debunking the myths about benefit claimants and disabled people being ‘scroungers’ and encouraging unity and solidarity against Tory attacks

3.         hold a day of action for accessible public transport as part of future DPAC weeks of action.”

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we note the sentiments of the resolution from the National Disabled Members’ Conference, that the union is already carrying these out and agree to an article in RMT News.”

6) Autism and Neurodiversity

“THIS CONFERENCE NOTES THAT:

1.    the population, and our movement, is neurologically diverse – people       have different ‘brain wiring’

2.    autistic, dyslexic, dyspraxic and other neurodivergent people experience systematic disadvantage and discrimination in our society

3.        only 15% of autistic adults are in full-time employment

THIS CONFERENCE DEMANDS urgent and effective measures to address this systematic discrimination.

THIS CONFERENCE WELCOMES the drafting of a Labour Party Manifesto on Autism and Neurodiversity by a neurodiverse group of labour movement activists, and the opportunity to contribute to this. We congratulate John McDonnell MP for his support for this initiative
.
THIS BRANCH RESOLVES TO:

1. continue to provide training on Autism in the Workplace, and extend this to include Neurodiversity in the Workplace
2. endorse the Manifesto and urge the Labour Party to adopt it
3. circulate information about this to our branches and members
4. ask our Parliamentary group Labour MPs to support this Manifesto.”

National Executive Committee Decision:-

“That we note the sentiments of the resolution from the National Disabled Members’ Conference.  We instruct the General Secretary to request a copy of the autism manifesto when it is drawn up and look to extend our autism in the workplace training to neurodiversity in the workplace.”

I will now be acting on the instructions of these decisions and I will, of course, keep you fully advised on any further developments. I would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this circular to the attention of your members.

Yours sincerely,
 
Mick Cash
General Secretary