Scottish TUC raises concerns about the human rights of disabled workers as a result of Britain leaving the EU
SCOTTISH TRADE unions are worried about the impact on human rights of disabled workers as a result of Britain leaving the EU.
A motion was passed at the STUC disabled workers conference at the weekend stating grave concerns that Prime Minister Theresa May will not be supportive of current human rights obligations, and “particularly the Tories’ desire to take the UK out of the European Commission for Human Rights (ECHR) before the EU referendum” and replace it with a Bill of Rights legislation.
The conference noted that while the Equality Act 2010 had flaws, particularly for disabled people, “its existence is welcome, as it is supported by European laws”.
Tony Sneddon from the STUC disabled workers’ committee moved the motion and pointed out that the Discrimination Disability Act in 1995 came about after a long campaign from disability trade unions to ensure disabled workers were not seen as “recipients of charity, but full citizens with rights and equal treatment in the workplace and wider society”.
“However in recent years the EU, under pressure from strong rightwing government, incorporates a far more utilitarian approach to equalities, health and safety in employment.” Tony Sneddon, STUC disabled workers committee
The Act helped to reshape EU law by incorporating reasonable adjustments that employers would have to make for any disabled employees, and introducing mechanisms to deal with harassment of disabled employees.
The Discrimination Disability Act effectually includes the Equality Act 2010.
Sneddon added: “However in recent years the EU, under pressure from strong rightwing government, incorporates a far more utilitarian approach to equalities, health and safety in employment.
“A position that struck me foregone as we consider the challenges ahead to ensure human rights for disabled citizens and their families are protected after our exit from the EU.”
“A position that struck me foregone as we consider the challenges ahead to ensure human rights for disabled citizens and their families are protected after our exit from the EU.” Tony Sneddon STUC disabled workers committee
With the motion passed, the STUC disabled workers committee will lobby both the Scottish and UK governments for a focus on the rights of disabled workers as part of the new human rights landscape across the UK.
The conference called on the Scottish Government to make a strong commitment “to retain and strengthen this legislation (ECHR) if the UK Government withdraws”.
Meanwhile, the STUC general secretary said that the people of Scotland face what people in the US face in that current and upcoming policies “undermine a significant section of the population”.
Grahame Smith told the STUC disabled workers conference that with Britain leaving the EU, it will “abandon the charter of fundamental rights and the authority of the European Court of Justice”.
“Even if we have a UK Bill of Rights, who protects the citizens in the UK from its own government?” Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary
“Now I expect many might believe that is how it should be – in fact, many people voted for that in the EU referendum. They didn’t want to subject to the decision of foreign institutions or foreign judges.
“My question is this. Even if we have a UK Bill of Rights, who protects the citizens in the UK from its own government?”
Smith added: “A minority government – a government elected by a minority of votes and a class-based judiciary. Who protects the powerless from the powerful?
“If these conventions and institutions are weakened, as they will be by Brexit, it will be our fundamental human rights that will be decadent.”
Picture courtesy of Iker Merodio
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