International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Trade unions take the lead

photo: CLC

To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, the ITUC is highlighting the critical contributions of trade unions in promoting the rights, and supporting the integration, of people living with disabilities.

  • The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU), Kenya, is running a programme to increase the inclusion of people with disabilities, particularly women, and improve labour rights at two large Kenyan companies.
  • The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), France, and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT), Spain, have produced detailed guides to promote social dialogue and collective bargaining for disability rights in workplaces and communities. The publications provide tools for strengthening disability inclusion within organisations through workplace negotiations.
  • The Trade Union Congress (TUC), UK, and Brazil’s Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), have developed robust national trade union networks dedicated to disabled workers.
  • Since 2018, the TUC has documented the discrepancies in pay and employment for disabled people in an annual report. In 2019, it inaugurated the Disability Pay Gap Day with the latest analysis showing that the difference in salaries between disabled and non-disabled workers stands at 14.6 per cent, higher than ten years ago. Furthermore, disabled women face an even greater pay disparity of 30%. To tackle this, the TUC is calling on the government to introduce mandatory disability pay gap reporting.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “The work of these trade unions highlights a broader global movement to more inclusive workplaces. Trade unions are steadfast in their support of the rights of people living with disabilities. Collective bargaining is crucial for achieving equity at work and in society as a whole; a key aspect of the New Social Contract.

“However, governments and employers need to take on their share of the responsibility. Early findings from the forthcoming UN Disability and Development Report 2023 indicate that the world is further off track than ever from meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for people with disabilities.

“We call for a renewed effort to reach the SDGs and make the promise of by UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities a reality.”