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Trade unions & disabled members: Why the social model matters

11 March 2015

The TUC guidebook on the social model of disability is aimed at helping unions and members improve equality for disabled people.

The social model of disability focuses on the ways in which society is organised, and the social and institutional barriers which restrict disabled people’s opportunities, rather than the archaic and limiting medical model of disability.

Trade unions and disabled members: Why the social model matters provides guidance to unions on practical approaches to adopting the social model in their work. It follows a proposal by the TUC disabled workers conference in 2014.

The guide encourages all unions to formally adopt the social model of disability, and advises on: training, involvement of disabled members, reviewing of policies and practices, and the benefits that can be achieved.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said:

"Disabled people have spent the last few years under attack from government policies. The government’s welfare reforms have been rooted in the out-dated medical model of disability, and austerity has cut billions from funding streams that allow disabled people to live independent lives.
"The right of disabled people to access and retain decent work has been undermined by many of the government’s cuts. So it is all the more important for trade unions to continue improving as organisations in which disabled people can fight for their rights – especially in the workplace. To achieve this, it’s essential that the social model of disability is applied within trade unions as fully as we want to see it applied by employers and government."

Access the guidance on trade unions and disabled members: why the social model matters.

Tags: , equality, disability, disabled members, disabled members council, tuc, tuc disability committee, guidance, guidelines