Report from National Disabled Members Conference 2021

The National Disabled Members Conference was held in Liverpool, between Saturday 30th October and Monday 1st November.

This was the first National conference were delegates were able to attend in person, since the National Community Service Group conference held in February 2020.

It was my pleasure to be selected as a delegate to attend this conference on behalf of the Branch.

The conference began on the Saturday afternoon with the following Assistant General Secretary for Equality Gloria Mills, Unisons National Officer for Disability Equality Deirdre Costigan and a member of the Trade Union Congress Disabled Workers Committee Sian Stockham made up the panel for this section of conference.

The various members of the panel discussed topics such as the government’s long awaited disability strategy published in July this year, sick pay and the launch of a new Disability Employment Charter.

Then delegates had the opportunity to ask questions of the panel. In which delegates raised topics such as members that are working on front line being disciplined for not having the Covid vaccine.

Due to conditions of holding the conference there was no Regional, Service Group and Caucus meeting, which in the past would have taken place after the first section of conference.

Sunday sections of conference saw delegates start to debate the various practiced motions under the different areas of unisons work and the two emergency motions that were on the conference agenda.

This gave me the opportunity to move motion 5, Mental Health and Suicide Awareness to Support Disabled LGBT+ members following the Covid-19 Pandemic on behalf of Disabled LGBT+ Caucus and was full supported by conference, also saw two points of order being put to conference during the debate on the emergence motion submitted by the National Disabled Members Committee, Not in Our Name.

Unfortunately the afternoon guest speaker Unisons General Secretary Christina McAnea was unable to join delegates, due to all trains being cancel from London, so conference continued with discussing the various motions,

Monday morning section of conference gave me the opportunity to speak in support of motion submitted to conference by the Scottish Region which highlighted the work being done on behalf of people with learning disabilities within the Scottish parliament and asked the National Disabled Members Committee to provide best practice guidance to branches on supporting these groups to become valued members of our union.

This section also saw Christina McAnea address delegate by video link, in which she highlighted With almost 200,000 disabled members, UNISON is one of – if not the – largest organisation of disabled workers in the country. Calling for better safeguards

for disabled workers, increased sick pay, and the extension of furlough for those who couldn’t go into their workplace, and for accessible information for deaf people.

She went on to made a pledge to attend all conferences, visit all regions and branches over the next year

Clive Streeter

Community Branch Member