Rights for Disabled People Sept03
are about 600 million disabled people in the world of which 40m are in the
EU. Many are poor, disadvantaged in securing education and health
services, discriminated in employment, ill-served by public transport and
excluded by society. They are unable to make full use of public services
including access to information and communication technologies.
UN Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons 1975 & 1993, the EU
Declaration in Article 13 of the Treaty(TEC) and the recent European
Parliament Resolution on “The rights and dignity of the disabled”
supplement the UK statutes protecting the rights of our disabled citizens.
For the EU, 2003 is “The Year of People with Disabilities”.
the EU, which will soon comprise of 25 Member States, able to offer
effective rights and opportunities to the disabled? Should it be the EU or
individual Member States who should guarantee such basic rights? Should
disabled people expect access to public transport and community services
e.g. hospitals, museums and libraries in all Member States?
EU does not have a ‘Charter of Rights’ for the disabled that is
binding across all Member States. Whilst all Members are obliged to tackle
discrimination in employment, as specified in the TEC (Article 13), the
record across the EU suggests widespread discrimination and exploitation.
The disabled and their representative institutions are neither consulted
fully nor involved actively in formulating, monitoring and implementing
national or EU Disability Convention or statutes.
this European Year for the Disabled, the EU should formulate appropriate
proportion of older people in the EU is increasing. Disability is a major
problem with an ageing population. As many of the elderly wish to obtain
part time work, we need legislation to recognise and compensate where
appropriate. Politicians and political parties must respond sensitively
and effectively to the needs of the disabled.
disabled workers also wish to be temporary agency workers and work in
specified positions for limited periods. Such limited working hours and
minimal responsibility suit their circumstances. They are satisfied with
the reward offered by their employers according to mutually acceptable
contracts. The UK has over 300,000 people employed on such flexible terms
and the disabled form an increasing part of this number.
EU’s proposed ‘Agency Workers Directive’ threatens this advantage
for UK workers, including the disabled. This Directive will require
employers to offer full benefits, including holidays and pensions, for
temporary workers regardless of the period of employment. The Directive
would force most employers to limit temporary employment and recruit fewer
disabled people if they know that they are likely to prefer shorter
periods of employment. This will seriously disadvantage thousands of part
time employees, especially the disabled.
UK unemployment rate is 4.9% (compare with an EU average of 9%) and for
the under 25’s it is 11.8% (compared with an EU average of 18%). Such a
favourable situation is the result of a fairly flexible labour market.
Enforcement of the EU Agency Workers Directive, driven by France and
Germany in Brussels, will erode our economic competitiveness. We must
oppose this EU Directive and ensure that we have employment laws that suit
our workers, including the disabled.