National Disabled Members' Conference 2018 Resolutions Report

Circular No: NP/193/18
Our Ref: EO/27


3 October 2018

Dear Colleague,


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:

i) Harassment Guidelines

“This union notes that individual members are sometimes accused of harassment or other discriminatory or prejudiced behaviour. We believe that while all union members are entitled to representation, this representation is in the context of union principles and policies.

We therefore resolve that the union adopt guidelines for the representation of members in such cases, which will include:

- that the member will be represented along the lines of an 'arguable defence', which may be, for example, that: the member did not do what s/he is accused of; the member was unaware of the nature of the offence, perhaps through insufficient training; the member accepts s/he was wrong, apologises and agrees to undertake training, but that disciplinary action or dismissal is excessive.

- that the union will not argue that the issue does not matter, is trivial, or is just workplace banter; and will not use stereotypes or blame the victim in order to undermine his/her complaint.”

Note: this had already been submitted to the AGM from the National Women’s Conference. The National Executive Committee decision was therefore:

“That we note this has been referred to the 2018 AGM” where it was passed.

National Executive Committee Decision:

“We instruct the General Secretary to incorporate the sentiments of this resolution into our reps guide on harassment and bullying.”

ii) Disabled People and Charities

“This conference notes that:

1. society has traditionally treated disabled people as objects of charity, accompanied by images of pity and suffering

2. the disabled people's movement has demanded 'rights not charity'

3. the disabled people's movement has also demanded 'nothing about us without us'

This conference believes that:

1. although some charities do some good work on disability issues, this is offset by the negative impact of dealing with disability as a charitable concern

2. disabled people are entitled to rights, support where necessary, and access to independent living, without having to rely on charity

3. while charities can provide useful support, they do not speak for disabled people - only disabled people and our organisations can do that

This conference also notes that mental health charity Mind has seconded a senior figure to work with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which persecutes mentally-unwell and other disabled people; and that mental health campaigners have protested at Mind events because of this.

This conference believes that it was a mistake for RMT to invite the Chief Executive of Mind to speak at our Health and Safety conference, and notes that the Disabled Members' Advisory Committee was not consulted about this. We ask that the union consult with its Disabled Members' Advisory Committee regarding suitable guest speakers on mental health and disability-related subjects at future events.”

Note: this resolution was submitted to the AGM where it was lost.

iii) Training Accessibility

“This conference welcomes the improvements in access to training courses at the National Education Centre at Doncaster.

However, we want training courses held in regions to be accessible as well, and ask the union to ensure that these are held in accessible venues.”

National Executive Committee decision:

“We note the sentiments of the resolution and that we have entered a new accreditation process for our training programme.

We instruct the General Secretary to confirm these arrangements cover accessibility and place a report back before us.”

iv) Cuts to Special Education Needs Funding

“This conference notes that

1. Government cuts have created a crisis in funding for schools to meet the needs of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

2. The number of children with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in London has increased by 10% while funding has increased by just 2%.

3. There is an estimated shortfall in funding in the SEND budget across London of £100m.

This conference believes that:

1. Disabled children are being failed by an education system without the resources to meet their needs

2. This will result in disabled children under-achieving in education and being further discriminated against in employment

3. This has a negative impact on many of our current and future members.

This conference asks the union to:

1. Publicly oppose the SEND cuts

2. Support and publicise protests against this under-funding

3. Ask our Parliamentary group to raise this

4. Urge local councils - especially Labour councils - to challenge the government over this issue and refuse to cut their SEND funding to schools.”

Note: this was sent to the AGM where it was passed.

National Executive Committee decision:

“That we instruct the General Secretary to carry out in line with the AGM resolution.”

v) Mental Health

“We ask the union to carry out the following proposals for activity on the issue of mental health, as drawn up by our National Disabled Members' Advisory Committee:

1. signposting mental health services to members

2. three themed posters for workplaces - one infographic; one on breaking the stigma/silence about mental ill-health; and one setting out the union's key demands (as outlined in 2017 AGM policy)

3. activity during mental health week

4. a video featuring RMT members speaking about their experiences of mental health problems

5. providing speakers to branch meetings, including RMT members who are willing to speak about their own experiences of mental health problems

6. guidance to branches on making meetings welcoming, avoiding derogatory language, and upholding standards of comradely debate

7. a recommendation to branches that they elect a specific person to provide support to reps, and to provide a 'listening ear' for reps who may find their role stressful.”

National Executive Committee decision:

“That we note there is a number of files covering this subject area. We instruct the General Secretary to formulate a draft policy to be considered by the NEC around the theme “Bargaining Agenda on Mental Health in the Workplace” with the aim for the policy to be discussed as a joint meeting of our Health and Safety and Disabled Members Advisory Committees at a future date.”

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