MP and DPAC supporter John McDonnell’s Early Day Motion 295 against the system of the WCA and Atos has 111 signatures , not one of them Conservative, what a surprise. It says:
That this House deplores that thousands of sick and disabled constituents are experiencing immense hardship after being deprived of benefits following a work capability assessment carried out by Atos Healthcare under a 100 million a year contract; notes that 40 per cent of appeals are successful but people wait up to six months for them to be heard; deplores that last year 1,100 claimants died while under compulsory work-related activity for benefit and that a number of those found fit for work and left without income have committed or attempted suicide; condemns the International Paralympic Committee’s promotion of Atos as its top sponsor and the sponsorship of the Olympics by Dow Chemical and other corporations responsible for causing death and disability; welcomes the actions taken by disabled people, carers, bereaved relatives and organisations to end this brutality and uphold entitlement to benefits; and applauds the British Medical Association call for the work capability assessment to end immediately and to be replaced with a system that does not cause harm to some of the most vulnerable people in society.
DPAC and Transport for All would like to thank all activists, campaign groups, MPs & DPOs who took part in the Right to Ride lobby and demonstration.
The day was a fantastic success, and that was 100% down to those who turned up to make their contribution.
We asked DPAC/TFA members to attend a meeting with MPs at the Houses of Parliament, and request that their MP then join us on a short bus-ride from there to the Confederation of Passenger Transport to present a letter.
The strong message from across their speeches was that we have what we have by campaigning, and to keep up the good work. We welcomed the very supportive comments of MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn in particular who have consistently supported DPAC and their campaigns.
We would also like to thank Inclusion London, and their CEO Tracey Lazard for their contribution and support on the day and their ongoing commitment to this and other campaigns.
We began the day by moving the MP meeting to a larger (though not more accessible) room- such was the turnout, and we still couldn’t fit everyone in! Following on from speeches by MPs and DPOs, lots of activists spoke about their (wholly negative) experience of using public transport. The anger and disappointment in the room was almost tangible.
As activists left H.O.P to go to Abingdon St bus stop, more and more people gathered from all around the country. Eventually hundreds of disabled activists and their campaigners were lined up, queuing for the number 87 bus. Again we heard from more activists, and more political support came in the form of London Assembly Member Navin Shah, and MP Julian Hubbard, who both addressed the gathering.
Once the speeches were done it was time for action! And in DPAC terms action means ACTION. The first ‘lucky’ 87 to come along made the fatal mistake of (illegally) denying disabled people access to the bus. So, if you can’t get on a bus – get in front of it. No doubt empowered by recent high profile Central London DPAC actions activists from Disabled Peoples Direct Action network and DPAC blocked and occupied 2 buses outside H.O.P. for almost an hour.
Activists held court, gave interviews and basically turned the bus lane into a wheelchair/scooter lane for the afternoon.
Once again, those on the sharp end of the action and those supporting agreed to end the action and leave together in solidarity.
After all that contingent from DPAC – TFA actually did make it to CPT to deliver our letter.
This action demonstrated once again, the power disabled people have they mobilise and take action together. We have never backed down as a movement – and we don’t intend to start now. We said after the Oxford Street action that we could continue to create spaces for disabled people to come and have their voices heard.
We especially give a big ‘thumbs up’ to the ‘Old School’ DAN members who led the charge. We welcome their return to the arena and look forward to working together of over the coming months.
A special mention and HUGE thanks to the volunteers from other campaigns (ye know who ye are), who turned up to provide support for those disabled activists that were supposed to travel on the buses. We appreciate their strong ongoing support and hope ye will turn out again.
Thanks to the volunteers from UK Uncut, Occupy London, Right to Work, TUSC, Drop Dow Now, Hands Off Our Public Services, Climate Justice Campaign, Fuel Poverty Action.
Today, disabled people have travelled to your offices from throughout the country. We have come here today because we have had enough of being denied access to buses in the UK; of being treated like second class citizens.
The sad truth is that almost every disabled person who has used buses has a story of a journey that was exhausting or difficult because of poor service by the bus company. Almost every wheelchair user has a story of being denied access to a bus, of waiting in the rain as bus after bus drives past. Of broken ramps or of bus drivers refusing to enforce wheelchair priority in the wheelchair space.
Almost every blind or visually impaired passenger has a story of non-existent or broken bus audio visual systems, of buses stopping metres away from the stop, too far away to ask what bus number it is.
Almost every ambulant disabled person has experienced buses pulling up leaving a chasm to leap between kerb and bus; or almost been thrown off their feet when buses pull away from the stop without time to sit down.
A 2009 survey by Trailblazers, End of the Line, found on more than half of all journeys on buses there were problems with the accessible facilities at the station or bus stop, on the bus or a poor service from members of staff. In one in three of the journeys made by Trailblazers, the survey respondent was unable to board the first relevant bus to arrive at their stop. This was a consequence of the access ramp being unavailable, the accessible space being unavailable or the driver failing to stop at a location which was accessible to the passenger.
This isn’t just about access to buses. We rely on transport to see friends and family; to get to work; to volunteer and enjoy sport and culture. When inaccessible buses stop us from getting out and about, we are excluded from public life. At worst, we become housebound. We become invisible.
Transport for All and Disabled People Against Cuts recognise that there have been improvements to accessibility in the bus industry. We welcome the commitment to meet the 2020 PSVAR regulations. And the introduction of wheelchair ramps to more and more buses around the country has transformed independent travel for thousands of wheelchair users.
And amongst the horror stories of disabled people denied access to buses, there are some examples of good practice. In London, TfL recently held the first ever training session for bus drivers which involved disabled and older people. In Brighton, buses are so spacious they can accommodate wheelchair users, those with shopper trolleys, buggies and guidedogs.
We would like to work with the CPT to ensure that accessibility is put at the heart of the bus industry. Ideally, we’d like to see a staff lead working exclusively on equality and inclusion – just as ATOC (the Association of Train Operating Companies) has a Head of Disability and Inclusion.
We also welcome CPT’s interest to meet and discuss this further and look forward to speaking to you.
Lianna Etkind Linda Burnip
Transport for All Disabled People Against the Cuts
At a meeting called by DPAC on 19th April 2012 to discuss the issues for the disabled people’s movement in opposing the closure of Remploy factories, Tracey Lazard, Chief Executive of Inclusion London, London’s leading Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisation, called on disabled people to unite in opposing the government’s cynical decision to snatch employment from thousands of disabled workers.
Over 30 disabled people and allies attended the meeting held at the University of London Union to build support from the disability people’s community for the national Remploy demonstration which took place on 20th April and the meeting called by Unite for 26th April. The meeting represented the first time the disabled people’s movement has openly discussed the complex and controversial issues which the Remploy dispute touches on and which have led to the stigma which still largely surrounds support for the Remploy workers from within the movement. However, whilst some disabled people are publically quoted as celebrating the closures as a victory for disability equality, DPAC has criticised the closures and the lack of any form of worker/user- led alternative which was proposed in the Sayce report.
Lazard explained Inclusion London’s position in opposing the factory closures and how this is in no way an endorsement of segregated employment. At a time of recession when non-disabled people cannot find jobs and when benefit cuts are pushing genuine disabled claimants off benefits and into poverty, it is irresponsible to remove meaningful employment from thousands of disabled people. The Sayce Report recommended investing money saved from the factory closures in Access to Work, the government programme that funds support for disabled people in mainstream employment, but with continuing cuts and restrictions to Access to Work, it is evident that the closures have nothing to do with building an inclusive society and are nothing more than yet another a cynical attempt to save money by targeting the most disadvantaged members of the community. Rob Murthwaite, DPAC national steering committee, spoke out about the need to nail the lie that this dispute is about disabled people’s equality.
There was debate around the need for segregated workplaces and also about the best way to effectively support the Remploy workers in their dispute. There was unanimous agreement that the Remploy workers have been mismanaged by non-disabled people with senior managers taking home 1.8 million in bonuses in 2011 while the factory floor were under a pay restraint. There was a strong feeling that government should have invested in reforming the factories according to user led models so that the expertise of the workers could be utilised in establishing viable, sustainable enterprises. Questions were raised about figures given out by the government purportedly showing the unsustainability of the factories. There was also consensus that on the core disabled people’s principle of nothing about us without us, the movement needs to listen and respect the voices of the workers. Those voices say no to factory closures so we need to respect that and support the workers in their self-determined struggle.
John McDonnell MP spoke about the grim prospects for the thousands of disabled Remploy workers set to lose their jobs. In areas with Remploy factories the ratio of people chasing each job is 30-40: 1 which is far higher than average. After losing their income from employment the workers will face serious difficulty in obtaining enough income to survive from welfare benefits as the system is ever tightened and the government moves ahead with proposals to replace DLA with PIP and in so doing remove 20% of claimants. He spoke about work he is involved in joint with PCS to document cases where coroners have directly linked deaths to the loss of benefits.
The meeting agreed actions in support for the Remploy workers to include a letter from DPAC and Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations to the press opposing the factory closures, support for the meeting called by Unite on 26th April and participation in the demonstration on 20th April.
SAVE REMPLOY – PUBLIC MEETING THURSDAY 26TH APRIL 6.30 – 8.30 PM AT FARADAY HOUSE 48-51 Old Gloucester Street London , WC1N 3AE (Opposite Unite’s Holborn Office car park)