10 July 2009 Accessibites - Protection during recession
In the current financial climate, many people are facing difficulties and uncertainty in the workplace. For workers with disabilities, this threat is even more pronounced, as they may have to deal with discrimination during the recession. That is why the Trades Union Congress has called for disabled workers to be protected.
The TUC has raised concerns that disabled workers will be discriminated against and be unfairly selected for redundancy, because of their disabilities. This, they say, may lead to social divide and a step backwards in terms of social culture, ultimately causing long-term hardship for disabled people.
Speaking at the TUC's annual disability conference in London, TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "As in previous recessions it will be disabled workers who will be disproportionately affected: by funding pressures on key services, with the public finances now deep in the red; by discrimination during redundancy selection, based perhaps on absence records; and by an even greater reluctance on the part of employers to meet their obligations towards disabled staff.
It's our job as unionists to be alert to these dangers; to hold employers and indeed ministers to account for the actions they take. Otherwise we face a reversal of the slow, painful progress we have made over the past decade in increasing the employment rate among disabled people.
The TUC is absolutely determined that disabled workers will not be victimised by welfare reform; that they should not suffer unfairly in this recession; and that they must not be disadvantaged by the business lobby's misplaced belief that equality is somehow a luxury we can no longer afford.
It is vital that society does not fall backwards and undo the progress made in terms of culture and perception of disability.
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By Jagdeep Kaur Sehmbi
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