Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle Campaign are horrified to find that so-called Labour MP and Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Frank Field has put forward the suggestion that disabled people do not deserve to earn the living wage and argues that they are less productive than non-disabled people. These comments have been published in a set of essays in Learning and Work.
“One idea that has been mooted is to grant a specific
exemption to the National Living Wage to those whose
disabilities are deemed so severe that they will never
be capable of enough output to warrant payment of
the minimum wage, but who might nevertheless enjoy
significant wellbeing gains from involvement in an
appropriate workplace environment.”
Mr Field goes on to say that some disabled people might benefit from this as it would make them more attractive to employers in spite of the obvious potential for exploitation this would entail. We have news for Frank we do not wish to be paid less than non-disabled people for the same work and we are not happy to be exploited by anyone.
Both disability groups are calling for Frank Field to resign or be sacked from his role as Chair and have approached Jeremy Corbyn to insist that Field immediately withdraws this highly offensive comment. To date we’ve had no reply but will be following this up again after the Labour Party Conference has ended.
If this is allowed to pass unchecked by the Labour leadership people will then be entitled to ask whether the party really has fundamentally moved on since it introduced the catastrophic Work Capability Assessment regime under the last New Labour Government.
A DPAC spokesperson said “ This is more or less exactly what Lord Freud suggested about 3 years ago but to find the same offensive idea being pedalled by a Labour MP supposedly opposed to the abuse of disabled people’s human rights is somehow even more offensive. Frank Field’s comments are nothing short of disgraceful.”
How can Labour hope to be trusted as true champions of disability rights when they are represented on a key committee by someone with such retrogressive, Victorian views?
John McArdle from Black Triangle said “Field must now be publicly censured by the Labour Party. The suggestion that disabled people’s labour is worth less than that of other people and the Tory-set minimum – let alone a ‘living wage’ – is an affront not only to the human dignity of every disabled person in the U.K. and is a stark betrayal of the values of fairness and equality upon which the party was founded. “
Labour still has a mountain to climb before it can convince the majority of disabled people and their friends, families and colleagues that they have truly changed. If they wish to convince us that they are now firmly set upon reversing all these barbaric, deadly cuts to our support and intend to fully comply with the spirit and the letter of the UNCRPD then they must act now to impose party discipline on Field in keeping with their stated intention. As stated elsewhere, we require Labour to now wage war with the Tory Party in defence of our human rights in order to win the next general election by the landslide it deserves. Tolerating the views of frontline Labour politicians whose views are more in accord with Tory politicians than ordinary Labour members and supporters is no longer acceptable and that uncompromising message needs to go out, loud and clear.
You can read Frank’s even more offensive response here https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/labour-mp-told-to-quit-influential-post-after-offensive-minimum-wage-call/
And many thanks to John Pring from Disability News Service for alerting us to this.
Please let Frank Field know what you think about this idea
You can email using this contact form http://www.frankfield.co.uk/contact/contact-information.aspx
or tweet to him