Last Wednesday General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Brendan Barber addressed the annual Disabled Workers’ Conference with a frank statement insisting that the government was being “fundamentally dishonest” about disability issues.
Drawing attention to the increasing concerns of the TUC, he highlighted the erosion of individuals’ employment rights while the government forces cuts “of a magnitude not seen in living memory”.
Brendan Barber further spoke of the disparity between what the government says and what it does. While claiming to pro-actively support inclusion and focus on equality in support of its disabled citizens, it is at the same time restricting means of access to work.
The statement went on to address the involvement of the “right-wing media” which “peddles demeaning myths of workshy scroungers” and exaggerates the degree of disability fraud. Quite unsupportively the government is seen to be fostering a populist language and a culture of suspicion for the most deserving in our communities.
According to Brendan Barber, disabled workers and people are in an entirely untenable position, which is becoming even more difficult to successfully negotiate:
“It is the poorest, and most disadvantaged people who are suffering the consequences. Among them cancer patients unable to work, ex-service personnel who have lost arms and legs, and people living with thalidomide.”
Disability groups have fought hard to put basic human rights on the public agenda; however their work is being undermined and dismantled in these times of hard hitting austerity. It seems the government is practicing collision politics, not using its coalition given power for healthy recovery and the underpinning of genuine, moral, progressive social capital.
Brendan Barber is now urging disabled workers to mobilise under this unmitigating assault on their established rights.
Written by Kerry Barr