Employers must change attitudes to end the disability employment gap

Tony Slaven
Tony Slaven

#stuc19 Employers’ attitudes to the employment of disabled people must shift fundamentally said Congress, as it pledged to drive an agenda to tackle the shameful disability employment gap, and to press employers to publish meaningful statistics on the employment of disabled workers.

Tony Slaven moved a composite from UNISON Scotland and Aberdeen Trades Union Council. An amendment from the STUC Youth Conference commended the inclusion in the STUC Unions into School Pack of the support that disabled job seekers are entitled to under the Disability Confident Scheme.

Tony told Congress that it is an unarguable fact that disabled people are less likely to be employed than other workers –

“The employment gap is huge and scandalous,” slammed Tony

“A forty per cent gap is not a number – it is a symbol… Of opportunities lost, potential denied and blighted lives.”

“What is lacking is not so much employability on the part of disabled people, but a willingness on the part of employers to employ more disabled people by providing inclusive workplaces and support.

“And let’s remember – discrimination against disabled people isn’t just a scandal – it’s against the law!”

He called for numbers and targets to be used for us and not against us, and called on employers to publish figures on the employment of disabled workers.

“Then we might see that Employment Gap is beginning to shift.”

Tony added that he heard someone on Marr say “it’s like flinging a baked bean at a rhino” meaning that the task ahead seems impossible.

“But there is only one sure way to get things done…and that is to begin!”

Tony warned that there will be employers who we will have to give a nudge and employers out there who are shameless and beyond embarrassment. However these figures can help us to establish that they are discriminating against disabled workers.

He called on the Scottish Government to step up the time scale for tackling the disability employment gap but warned that all trade unions need to make this part of the bargaining agenda.

“Disabled workers have a right to dignity and respect but above all we have a right to work.”

Kathleen Kennedy
Kathleen Kennedy

UNISON’s Kathleen Kennedy, speaking on behalf of Aberdeen Trades Union Council seconded, saying that it was time to make employers accountable for their treatment of disabled workers.

“We must encourage employers in both the public and the private sector to engage with the voluntary publication of statistics,” said Kathleen.

“But that’s not good enough. We also need to lobby the government to make it compulsory for employers to publish these statistics and to monitor these statistics to make sure that Scottish workplaces are fairer places for disabled people.”

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