Disabled trade unionists across Scotland are to lobby the Scottish Government that there should be a specific number of people who work in the public sector that are disabled
- STUC Disabled Workers’ Conference notes that disabled adults are often unable to get “a foot on the ladder”, as cuts to local government funding impact on the availability of advice and support
- Those disabled people who do gain employment report support is not being put in place to sustain employment
- Disabled people make up one in five of the population, but only 11 per cent of those who work in the private sector and 11.7 per cent of those in the public sector
- Conference calls for employers who use long term conditions and resultant absence rates as a reason for terminating someone’s employment against their wishes to be held to account
DELEGATES at the STUC Disabled Workers’ Conference in Clydebank have called on the Scottish Government to work with COSLA and other public sector bodies to take action to increase employment for disabled people in Scotland.
The conference supported a specific commitment for the public sector to have a percentage of their workforce – at a variety of pay grades - be set aside for those people who are disabled who currently receive PIP or legacy benefits. This is to ensure that disabled people are represented at all levels in the workplace.
Unite Scotland’s Siobhan McCready, who moved the motion, described how her daughter – who has a range of physical conditions as well as a long term condition – had to give up work at 21 after a severe seizure. Now she is placed in a ‘non-work category’ because there is no place for her to work.
McCready said: “She wants to work. She is used to working. She is frustrated that she hasn’t got work. All she needs is a bit of support that will change her circumstances
McCready added: “Disabled people in Scotland are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people.
“Those in work often have to leave their jobs just like my daughter because they are fired or their conditions worsen.
“What a waste of talent and experience for not pursuing diversity in the workplace.”
“Disabled people in Scotland are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people.” Siobhan McCready, Unite Scotland
The conference also noted that disabled adults are often unable to get “a foot on the ladder”. Despite prior efforts to address this, progress has been slow, with information and support are not reaching those who need them due to cuts in local government funding impacting the availability of advice and support staff.
Disabled people make up one in five of the population, but they constitute only 11 per cent of those who work in the private sector and 11.7 per cent of those in the public sector.
The delegates made the conference aware that the support has not been put in place from employers to allow disabled workers to sustain employment, and that awareness of existing support schemes such as Access to Work needs to improve.
Delegates called for employers who use long term conditions and resultant absence rates as a reason for terminating someone’s employment against that employee’s wishes to be held to account.
Unison’s Jackie Anderson said: “We don’t have to tackle our employers, but we have to address our colleagues as well.
“It is quite often that, if you have time off to go to extra appointments, they sit there and moan about how the fact that they have to do your job while you are not there.“
It was noted at the conference that the Scottish Government published ‘A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People’ in 2016.
The report outlines a delivery plan for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities that contains five Ambitions and 93 Actions to support over a million disabled people in Scotland.
One of these Ambitions deals with employment, and several Actions are laid out to address the employment gaps between disabled workers and the rest of the working-age population.
Picture Courtesy of David Thomson