2003, European Year of People with Disabilities "All for one and one for all" A European Year for Equal Rights for People with Disabilities

Brussels, 19-20 November 2002

The ETUC and its affiliated organisations welcome the Council decision to nominate 2003 as the European Year of People with Disabilities.

The ETUC will mobilise trade unionists everywhere to make this European Year a success, to make it a year for equal rights and social integration in an ordinary work environment and a launch pad for the future, to develop access to education, employment and the dignity of all persons with disabilities.

The ETUC action plan: mobilise and raise the profile of trade union action for people with disabilities

The ETUC action plan will focus on three priorities as well as campaign material and a number of initiatives.

ETUC priorities

Three priorities will determine the successful integration of persons with disabilities:
- the right to job
- the right to education and training
- the right to dignity

All these rights should be the subject of a special Directive deriving from the framework directive adopted on 27 November 2000 "establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation" which is now being transposed into the legislation of Member States. In cooperation with NGOs working with people with disabilities organised in the European Disability Forum, the ETUC is calling for the Commission to take the initiative in bringing forward this directive.

What should be covered by a European Directive?

- Right to employment

The right to employment should be tackled in the broadest sense of the term, starting from the time of recruitment. The Directive should explicitly call for priority to be given to the skills and aptitudes of applicants, so that they are not judged by their disabilities.

Public and private employers, and employment or placement services should have the duty to make known all available vacancies by all appropriate means and while using new technologies, including notification at home.

The right to employment also involves the right to vocational training and promotion within the enterprise.

Adapting the work place and access to it are other essential factors in employing persons with disabilities. This provision already exists in the general directive "establishing general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation" of 27 November 200, unless "the measures in question give rise to a disproportionate burden" for employers. For the ETUC, the consultation of staff representative bodies is essential.

Re-employment, or continuing employment (or in an equivalent job reflecting the new skills of the person concerned, whithout loss of wage), for persons who are victims of accidents whether at work or otherwise is another trade union priority. This priority also aims at those who will temporarily interrupt their job to take care of a disabled person.

In a general way, staff representative organisations should be periodically consulted on the integration policies pursued by enterprises, depending on the size and type of business, and of the impact of this policy on the employment of people with disabilities.

Special clauses should be introduced in collective bargaining and collective agreements regarding the right to employment and equal opportunities for disabled persons or for people requiring special care.

It is vital to introduce incentives to employ people with disabilities, such as quotas or other suitable measures, since the high rates of unemployment among this section of the population suggest that, in this area, goodwill and the exchange of good practices are insufficient.

When the health of disabled persons makes it impossible for them to integrate into the ordinary labour market, and they are consequently employed in protected workshops, the directive should give these workers equivalent social rights to those granted to people in the normal working environment.

- Right to education and training

Member States must take all appropriate measure to ensure the access of people with disabilities to the ordinary school environment.
This entails:
- a multi-annual plan to create places in existing or future schools
- adapting all the premises concerned
- adapted means of transport
- measures and resources to raise the awareness and training for the staff responsible for receiving, supporting and educating these people.
- period evaluations of these policies with the social partners and organisations concerned.

The same applies to university and higher training, particularly in respect to the adaptation of premises, to transport and to the implementation of programmes and adapted technical and human services.

And where the personal situation of the child with disabilities so requires, and a placement in a specialised institution is necessary, Member States shall ensure that:
- these institutions have adequate resources and lead to the acquisition of genuine vocational training and skills.

- Right to dignity

The right to dignity means the possibility to chose one's way of life. This is ensured through a guaranteed income making it possible to live in an independent way, in other words the right to a decent income for the person with disabilities and if need be for their carers.
This income should
- compensate for the loss of income following or resulting from disability,
- compensate the additional expenses engendered by disability,
- compensate where applicable for the loss of income and social rights of the family member or other person caring for the person with disabilities;

It is also obtained through the right to housing, which entails the obligation :
- to adapt and renovate the existing dwellings to make them accessible to disabled people, with fixed deadlines for implementation;
- to build housings adaptable to persons with disabilities;
- to design in an innovative way the conception of architecture in towns and conurbations which takes account of the everyday life of persons with disabilities.

The right to health is also involved, and measures should ensure :
- health centres situated close enough;
- treatment units, specially adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities available in public and private health establishments
- the specific and/or more expensive treatment required by the disability should be wholly provided by Social Security systems on the basis of national solidarity
- the development and the payment of home services and tele-assistance.

All measures preventing acts of violence against people with disabilities shall be taken and medical treatments which do not affect the dignity of the concerned person shall be ensured.

All elements in literature, arts or any other cultural fields leading to the despise of the image and/or the representation of the persons with disabilities shall be subject to indictment under criminal law.

The right to dignity also implies the accessibility and the use of goods and services.

All buildings and establishments open to the public must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Public and private transport shall be adapted and the new equipment shall be designed in a way that allows persons with disabilities to use them.

All obstacles aiming at hindering the access to and participation in sporting and cultural activities by persons with disabilities shall be suppressed.