Report: Disabled Members' Advisory Committee, 27 January 2020

Twenty-five members attended the meeting, including several new members elected recently. All were welcomed and introduced themselves.



1. Holocaust Memorial Day


The meeting began with a moment of reflection for Holocaust Memorial Day. We remembered that the Nazis thought of disabled people as "life unworthy of life"; started a programme of forced sterilisation of disabled people as soon as they took power; then began the "T4 programme" of mass murder of disabled people. By the end of the war, the Nazis had killed around 275,000 disabled people. We paused for a minute to remember these people, and in solidarity with Roma, Jews and other victims of the Holocaust. Never again!



2. Follow-up from last meeting


Know Your Rights week 9-15 February:

  • South East Essex branch is asking all its reps to be available to visit workplaces; two branch officers are setting aside two full days for workplace visits
  • Neasden branch will be using the Disabled Workers Know Your Rights cards on its scheduled branch walkabout
  • the issue will be raised at South East Regional Council AGM
  • communications department to be contacted re KYR poster
  • DMAC members took copies of the KYR card
  • all DMAC members to arrange activity during the week


25 November event

  • this did not take place due to the general election.
  • clarified that this is designated by the United Nations as a Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls


Campaign Logos

  • communications department to be contacted re Staff Our Stations logo
  • designs to be sought for Disabled People for Guards logo


Reduced/free membership subscriptions

The GS had explained that there was no provision under which disabled members on unpaid work schemes could have free union membership. We agreed to chase this up, with a rule change if necessary.


Accessibility Guide

The NEC’s Equal Rights Sub-committee is still considering our accessibility guide for branches; we urged the NEC to authorise sending it out soon.



3. Equal Rights Sub-committee report


Newly-elected NEC member Ian Allen attended the meeting. He reported and asked questions on the following issues:


Resolution from last DMAC meeting: Mental Health and MFA Policies

The NEC agreed to raise this with employers. DMAC members asked for a list of companies where we have negotiating rights so that we can pursue this. We also suggested a model policy, and considered legal challenge to disciplinary action for certificated sickness absence


Resolution from last DMAC meeting: Disabled Members and RMT’s Website

The NEC instructed the General Secretary to meet with DMAC members to discuss our concerns. The following members volunteered to be part of the deputation if available: janine, Neil, Martin, Tracy, Paul G, Nick, Esther, Andy, Richard, James, Aidan.


Resolution from last DMAC meeting: NEC Decisions on Disability Issues

DMAC (and, separately, BEMMAC) had asked the NEC to inform us of its decisions on our resolutions at the same time as it informs branches and regional councils. The NEC decided to refuse this request. DMAC members were dismayed by this decision, and reminded the NEC that it is not always possible for members (especially disabled members) to attend branch meetings to find out decisions. Several members indicated their intention to submit an appeal against this decision to the AGM.


DMAC reports

As provided for in the rule book, DMAC has submitted two reports on the NEC’s Equal Rights Sub-committee. We have received no response to these reports, and asked Ian to chase this up.


Staff Our Stations campaign

DMAC members were disappointed that the Committee had not been invited to be involved in the union’s Staff Our Stations campaign, given the centrality of disabled access in the campaign and our work on it so far. 



It was suggested that the NEC indicate timescales for carrying out decisions arising from our resolutions.



5. Motions


One resolution was received at short notice: from Fife and District Branch about Davie O’Donnell. The Chair pointed out that Advisory Committees are not supposed to discuss individual cases, and that had the General Secretary seen this motion, he may have ruled it out order. She advised that we would debate it and forward our decision to the GS, who would then decide whether it was in order.


We debated the motion, and agreed to attach a note to clarify that we would like the union to consider this to be about all reps and members who are facing similar detriment from their employer. Motion passed unanimously.



6. 2020 Conferences


RMT Disabled Members’ Conference, 17-18 April, Manchester: members encouraged to seek election as delegates by their branches; and to submit motions. Liaison Committee gave update on speakers and on social event; and confirmed that it would be preparing an information pack for delegates.


TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference, 21-22 May, Bournemouth: election of delegation is in progress; the NEC has not yet decided on our recommendation to submit a motion about recent developments in accessible transport; we have booked a stall and will hold a fringe meeting on the anti-union laws.


STUC Disabled Workers’ Conference, 21-22 November: date for info; more discussion at future meetings.



7. Training


DMAC members were advised of the dates of disability-related training courses at the National Education Centre, and of how to request that courses be run in their regions.


Some DMAC members felt that the new application form is easier to use, but others found the process less accessible than previously.


The NEC member agreed to pursue the arrangement of a training workshop for NEC members on the social model of disability, noting that this was agreed by the 2017 AGM and that the workshop has been written.



8. DMAC Plan of Activities 2020/21


We discussed, amended and agreed our draft plan of activities (attached). This will now go forward to our Disabled Members' Conference in April, where delegates will discuss it in workshops and may propose further additions and amendments before we vote on it.



9. RMT Disabled Workers’ Charter


We discussed, amended and agreed a draft Disabled Workers’ Charter (attached): a list of demands, grouped into ten policy areas, where we want action to improve the lives of disabled workers. We want our union to campaign for the demands in our charter at every level.


This will now go forward to our Disabled Members' Conference in April, where delegates will discuss it in workshops and may propose further additions and amendments before we vote on it.



10. Neurodiversity


DMAC members reported their successes in tabling demands regarding neurodiversity to employers:

  • securing agreement from Transport for London that it will stop advertising for job applicants “with outgoing personalities”, as this is discriminatory, for example towards autistic people
  • securing agreement from South West Railway to introduce a dyslexia-friendly app for staff


11. Other Business

DMAC member Richard Constable is doing a sponsored cycle ride to Amsterdam for protate cancer and is seeking sponsorship.