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Trade Union Disability Alliance (TUDA)

How TUDA Works

How is TUDA organised?

TUDA has no paid workers: instead our work is led by our membership. An Executive Committee (EC) is elected at the Annual General Meeting to co-ordinate the activities. Some Trade Unions opt to elect EC representatives through their own Disabled Members' structures. Attendance at EC meetings is generally supported financially by that member's Trade Union. The EC meets every two months.

Trade unions represented on the Executive Committee include: Unite-Amicus, Unison, GMB, Bectu, CWU, NASUWT.

To download the TUDA constitution as a word doc Click Here

To download the TUDA constitution as a PDF Click Here

What is TUDA's philosophy?

TUDA's politics are based on the Social Model of Disability, rather than on a Charity or Medical Model of Disability. We believe that people are disabled by society’s barriers, not by our impairments. We want equal civil and human rights, not pity and charity.

Barriers include prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory practices, from stereotyping us and labelling us as “incapable” or “dangerous”, to denying us appropriate access to information, assistance, education, employment, transport and the environment.

Disabled people can have physical and/or sensory impairments, and/or learning difficulties, and/or be users or survivors of the mental health system. We are a diverse community, united by our experience of oppression.

TUDA is working for an inclusive society where everyone participates on equal terms and enjoys full civil and human rights.

Is there a Socialist Model of Disability?

Yes, in that the Social Model of Disability has its roots in a socialist analysis of disability.

First, we recognise that capitalism is the direct cause of the majority of impairments worldwide - through the creation of poverty (the biggest cause of impairments) and war; by making access to medical care dependent on the abiilty to pay; through dangerous, unsafe and negligent working practices; and by polluting the environment. We therefore recognise that challenging capitalism is the way to minimise impairments, rather than focussing on the medical search for 'cures'.

Second, we recognise that capitalism is responsible for the categorisation of people as disabled, by classifying people according to whether or not they are 'fit for (paid) work'. Anyone who is not carrying out (paid) work is then regarded as irrelevant and useless. Capitalism also rejects those who need to use different working methods, or who may need to take more time to complete tasks, because of the perceived impact on profits. In turn, capitalism refuses to recognise the assistance which some disabled people need to live independently as being 'real' work which should be paid for; instead capitalism insists on a system of unpaid 'care' which in turn forces down the wages and working conditions of social care workers.

Third, we recognise the historical links between capitalism and the prevailing philosophy of 'normal' and 'abnormal' bodies. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, it was accepted that the human form comes in many shapes and sizes, and that impairment is a normal part of the human condition - everyone is 'normal', and at some point in our lives most of us will become disabled. But with the Industrial Revolution came the idea of the standardised body, which came in standardised sizes and forms and had standardised abilities and needs. Capitalism then rejects everyone who is unable to meet that standard, because of the perceived impact on profits.

Fourth, we recognise that capitalism is dependent on the creation of disability, on the denial of human and civil rights to one group in order to control the rest, at the same time as keeping a pool of cheap labour in reserve. We recognise that fear of disability is a major weapon of capitalism, and the belief that disabled people are better off dead is fundamental to capitalist interests.

Finally, we recognise that the continuation of capitalism depends on the continuing categorisation of people into disabled and non-disabled, normal and abnormal, economically useful and useless - as well as on the belief that medical science can or will soon cure all of the problems that capitalism creates.

It is not enough to believe that there will be no disabilism without capitalism. Disabilism is so fundamental to capitalism that capitalism can only be challenged successfully when fighting disabilism is an integral part of that challenge.

If you would like to know more about theoretical models of disability, check out this website.