National Disabled Members Conference 2022
Over the period of 29th until 31st October I attended the National Disabled Members Conference in Brighton, on behalf of the Branch.
The first section I attended was a workshop looking at the Disability Employment Charter. This was presented by Unisons Assistant General Secretary for Equality and Angela Hamilton the National Disabled Members Committee delegate on the National Executive Council.
During the workshop delegate we were given a presentation on the Charter which highlighted that the recent Trade Union Congress conference had signed up to the charter on behalf of the 52 trade unions it represented. It also covered the importance of delegates to encouraging their employers to sign up to it, to show their commitment to their disabled employees.
The other section of conference I attended on Saturday was the regional delegates meeting, as issues were being raised by delegates about the suitability of using the venue for National Disabled Members conferences. It was felt as the host region this should be raised at a national level by the group’s representatives to National Disabled Members Committee. The group went on to discuss any motions on the agenda that the region may want to consider contributing to the discussion.
The first Plenary section of conference saw delegates vote on an emergency motion, ‘’Tory chaos subject to change’ submitted by the Northern Region, which was carried and added to the order of business under the Campaigning sub heading prioritised motions.
Within this part of conference Paddy Toner was presented with his award as this year’s winner of the union’s Local Service Champions Awards by general secretary Christina McAnea.
The Second Plenary section of conference welcoming its first guest speaker Christina McAnea.
Christina began her speech to conference with a personal thanks to Deirdre Costigan National Officer for Disability Equality, Anne Pickard Assistant National Officer, Members of the National Disabled Members Committee and Sian Stockham the National Delegate Council member to the Trade Union Congress Disabled Workers committee, for their work during Union’s Year of the Disabled Worker.
She went on to highlight the importance work the union is doing around the Disability Employment Charter, the ballot of National Health Service members on strike action and the cost-of-living campaign and finally she renewed her personal pledge to campaign on all discrimination within our union.
During the break for lunch I attended the Caucus meeting for Disabled LGBT+ members, within the meeting delegates received a report on the work the groups representatives had been involved with, it also held hustings and a vote to select it’s representatives to the National Disabled Members Committee for the forth coming term, also discussed it’s motion’s submitted to the agenda and highlighted other motion that they felt the caucus may want to contribute to the debate.
The third plenary section welcomed to conference its second guest speaker Vicky Foxcroft Member of Parliament, the Shadow Minister for Disabled People.
During her speak Vicky highlighted her concerns regarding present plans to introduce the Rights to Rights bill, which will replace the present human rights legislation introduced while the United Kingdom was part of the European Union to provide protection to working individuals. Vicky also spoke about the effects of the present cost of living crisis putting working individuals into working poverty.
The last Sunday section saw the various service group meetings being held; I attended the community members discussion. During the meeting delegates held hustings and a vote for representative from the conference to represent Disabled members at the service group national conference in March 2023, I put myself forward as a potential representative, however was unfortunately not elected, also members discussed and agreed two topics for motions to be submitted from the group to the service group conference.
Monday morning saw the fourth and final plenary sections and started by welcoming it last guest speaker Andrea Egan Unison’s President.
During her address to conference Andrea highlighted the work done by delegates during the year of the Disabled Worker. Which has seen one hundred activists train as Disabled Members Officers, also the work done on the Disability Employment Charter
She also went on to mention how public services are concerned how they are going to pay the increasing energy costs during the present cost-of-living crisis and how the European Union Retained Bill will deregulate employment rights for members. She spoke about how as a trade union we were facing unprecedented times as the government plans yet another period of austerity, and went on to remind delegates that when we work to together we are stronger and will emerge united for the battle ahead.
The remainder of conference saw continued debate of the prioritised motions and unfortunately as there was not time for conference to debate the non-prioritised motions, Hampshire UNISON’s motion “Hybrid Meetings” did not get debated by delegates. I have asked the Branch Committee to consider looking at submitting this important motion to other conferences it feels suitable, to ensure full inclusion within the work the branch does for its members.
Branch Committee Member