By Debbie Jolly from our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts
DPAC condemns the outrageous comments made by Phillip Davies Conservative MP for Shipley, Yorkshire. Davies announced that disabled people should be paid less than minimum wage. He claimed disabled people are considered less productive than non disabled people. Davies was condemned by Disability organizations, MPs and others for his thoughtless comments.
His comments come at a time of rising unemployment, a time when disabled people through the Work Capability Assessment are being moved from Incapacity Benefit to being declared ‘fit for work’ by the maligned Atos group. Atos has already been subject to several investigations on its practices. Davies who has made previous comments suggesting disabled people are ‘scroungers’ now claims that disabled people should be paid less than £5.93 per hour. From scroungers to slave labour!
For years disabled people have argued that employers’ attitudes that perceive disabled people as less productive, regardless of qualification level or previous experience are issues that need tackling through education. The recent changes to Access to Work and the increased levels in the contributions from employers for adjustments have also had a knock-on effect on disabled people getting work. Disabled people are those most likely to be long-term unemployed NOT due to impairment but to ignorance of the very kind an elected MP feels no qualms about displaying. Even our enemy media outlet the Daily Mail condemns Davies.
Davies’ comments set disabled peoples’ opportunities back 20 years. It is the type of prejudice that we would expect from MPs given the raft of misunderstandings around disability that we have endured since the coalition came to power. The irony is that disabled people regardless of qualification are often paid less than their non-disabled colleagues. This is not because of productivity but because employers feel they can get away with it. In 2009 disabled people were paid a gross average of £11.08 compared to £12.30 for non disabled employees (Labour Force Survey 2009). DPAC suspects the differences are wider. These are the issues MPs should be discussing NOT reducing disabled workers wages further.
Davies fails to recognise that disabled people have the right to be paid a living wage, a fair wage, and a wage appropriate to skills and qualifications – and it seems all MPs fail to recognise the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities– a convention setting up disabled peoples’ rights as equal to those of non-disabled people. No one should be considered a second class citizen because they happen to be disabled, nor should they be paid less for the same work.
Tell Davies what you think of his idea by signing the petition at the link below
Take action link: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AgjLO/zlRm/CxM4