LABOUR mayors must boldly face up to the problems before them if they are to honour their promises to disabled people, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said yesterday.
Opening the trade union centre’s disabled workers’ conference in London, she rallied delegates to “fight the politics of hate” and warned that disabled benefits claimants had been smeared as scroungers and that scapegoated migrant workers were being used for little pay.
“What a victory it was when, in the face of such a dirty and racist campaign, last week London voted to put a Labour mayor in power in City Hall,” Ms O’Grady said, “a victory that, along with the new Labour mayors in Bristol, Salford and Liverpool too, gives us new opportunities to make lives better for disabled people.”
But the new mayors had a job of work in front of them, she said.
“Making sure that transport is not just affordable but accessible, making sure that new homes are not just built, but designed to deliver the right to independent living.
“Opening up opportunities for fair shares of the very best apprenticeships to go to disabled young people and promising payment of, at the very least, a living wage.”
Turning to the EU referendum, Ms O’Grady challenged disabled workers to vote to stay in the bloc, claiming that to leave would risk a step backward for disabled people’s rights.
“Do you really believe that a government which set out to bash workers with its Trade Union Bill will keep and protect these rights?” she asked.
“Conference, regardless of the result on June 23 — and I hope it will be a vote to remain — our fight for equality must go on.”