'Driving the agenda forward massively'

Unite delegate Dave Allan speaks out in defence of social model of disability and social model language

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Unite delegate Dave Allan made a powerful intervention at the second day of TUC conference on Wednesday (October 19) in defence of social model language.

Dave, who is Unite’s disabled workers rep on the executive council and co-chair of the Disabled Workers’ Committee, reminded conference that it has long “supported the social model of disability — the model that says that we, as disabled workers, are disabled not by our impairments but by the way that society treats us”.

Thanking Congress for the support they have given disabled workers and other equality strands such as BAEM, women, and LGBT+, Dave hailed how they are “driving the agenda forward massively”.

But he highlighted that “we do have to be very much aware of social model language”.

He pointed out that while Unite will support composite 15, he noted that there is a line in an amendment to the composite that talks about “mental ill health”.

“We, in the disabled movement, don’t talk about mental ill health, we talk about mental health issues,” Dave asserted, while also calling out a similar line in a separate motion, motion 36.

“The social model language is very important and again, we are disabled workers, disabled by our impairments; we do not have disabilities,” he commented.

Urging conference to support both motions as well as the social model of disability, Dave concluded, “If all we’ve got to worry about is a few words of language, we are making tremendous strides forward”.

By Hajera Blagg

Photo by Mark Thomas

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