International Day of Disabled Persons - December 3
December 3, 2012
Working people understand that we don't live in a fair society and this lack of fairness extends to our workplaces as well. Discrimination based on disabilities is a daily reality and we have a responsibility to confront it.
Our communities and our workplaces are designed with a fictitious "normal person" in mind, as if having a disability weren't in fact, normal.
Most of us though, will require some kind of accommodation at some point in our lives. When we do, we will need supports in place - we will need job security, we will need the assurance that we won't be thrown out on to the scrap heap, we will need medical coverage, and we will need time off. These are the things we fight for. If we are seeking employment, we want assurances that we won't be stereotyped - or not hired - because of our disability.
As trade unionists, we take a working-class perspective on disability. People with disabilities need and deserve meaningful work - we all need to feed our families and we all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. We will not allow our worth as people to be measured by how much we contribute to the GDP or the bottom line, or how well we fit the mould.
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly. The aim is to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of economic, political, social, and cultural life.
The denial of opportunities and negative attitudes are the main reasons people with disabilities are disproportionally absent from the workforce. CAW negotiates 'Employment Equity language' to ensure the equality of access, differently able people need and deserve.
Employers often resist employing a person with disabilities believing they will be unable to perform their roles and/or that it would be too expensive. This attitude is rooted in fear and stereotyping, focusing more on the disability than on the abilities of the individual.
Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to inclusion are removed, persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life and their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, detrimental to us all.
CAW demands that the Government of Canada fully implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada signed onto the Convention in 2009, yet has taken few steps to implement this human-rights-treaty.
The commemoration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to address this exclusion by focusing on promoting accessibility and removing all types of barriers in society to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their human rights and play their full part in the economic, political, social and cultural lives of their communities.