Right to Work alongside Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organised a successful and well attended workshop at the Unite the Resistance conference on November 17.
Over 100 disabled activists, trade-unionists, welfare campaigners and unemployed workers crammed into the Westminster venue to discuss resistance to Tory welfare cuts.
Merry Cross from DPAC explained how ATOS work capability assessments were wrecking the lives of disabled people and how militant protests – particularly during the paralympics – had forced the issue into the spotlight. She also spoke of the links DPAC has built with the trade union movement.
Mark Dunk of Right to Work followed up by speaking about how the government has sought to divide the unemployed and other benefit claimants from the rest of the working class. He explained how the Tories want working people to blame the unemployed for their own situation in order to justify their inhuman benefit cuts and slave labour workfare schemes.
The final speaker was Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU). He detailed the way in which one employer had replaced an organised trade union workforce with 100 unpaid people forced to work for a private company through the governments workfare system.
The discussion saw calls for unity between workers and the unemployed receive solid support from the room – It was pointed out that many people in work will also be hit hard by benefit cuts. There was agreement on the need for solidarity between disabled and non-disabled people and claimants and benefit workers. A proposal from Defend Council Housing’s Eileen Short for closer working between the different welfare campaigns and to look into the possibility of a joint conference in the new year was also well supported.
Action points included:
- union branches to take back model motion on the Work Programme from Right to Work
- support EDM 687 calling for the abolition of the Work Capability Assessment
- hold a minutes silence at 11am on 3rd December in remembrance of Atos victims
- support campaigns to defend the EHRC and protection of disabled workers as under the Equalities Act 2010
- highlight issue of how benefit changes are impacting on students and making their live intolerable
A full report on the Unite the Resistance conference can be found here.