Disabled workers sent a clear message that they will fight back at the TUC’s disabled workers conference last week.
“Last year people were getting angry, but this year they were incandescent with rage,” said Sasha Callaghan, outgoing member of the TUC disabled workers’ committee.
“Disabled people have been in the front line of the coalition government’s attacks, and that spilled over into the mood of the conference.”
Around 250 delegates and observers debated how the TUC should respond.
In the face of increasing verbal and physical attacks on disabled people, delegates were angry at the media’s portrayal of disabled people. The National Union of Journalists called on its members to fight for fairer coverage.
There was also debate over Tory plans to slash disabled people’s jobs at Remploy factories.
Some unions call for the expansion of Remploy, others call for more mixed workplaces. But all united in solidarity with Remploy workers fighting to save their jobs.
Platform speaker Joe Mann, former general secretary of the League of the Blind and Disabled, was challenged by a Remploy worker about his role on the Remploy board.
Protesting against Atos
A 50-strong protest took place outside the Atos medical assessment centre in Manchester last Thursday.
Alan Hartman is chair of the Manchester Users Network, a support group for psychiatric service users. “Many people now with mental illness are on the verge of committing suicide,” he said.
“Every week someone comes to us saying they have a letter from Atos and they are going to end their lives.”