Monday, 11 June 2018

RTUC joins DPAC to Oppose Attacks on Mobility

DPAC & RTUC at the Reading Civic Offices
On 11 June 2018, Berkshire Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organised a vocal demonstration outside the Reading Civic Offices to protest against Reading Borough Council's proposals to restrict free travel on buses for disabled people and their helpers. The Reading Trades Union Council was strong in its support of the protest, recognising not only the fundamental injustice of restricting mobility in itself - but also understanding the negative impact RBC's actions would have on disabled people finding employment and commuting to work. Nada Al-Sanjari (NEU), Nikki Dancey (GMB), Ginnette Hargreaves-Lees (Unite), Kevin Jackson (Unison), John Partington (TSSA) and Sue Taylor (PCS) represented RTUC at the event.

The protesters leafleted the general public and attracted their attention with the flying of banners and placards and the chanting of 'No more cuts - cuts kill!' Although the Borough Councillors did not pass by the protesters - preferring to enter the Civic Offices by the back door to get to their debate on the subject - the presence of Reading Chronicle and Get Reading journalists should alert them to the anger and opposition their proposals have roused.

DPAC leaflet for the protest
Whereas free travel passes are currently available to mobility impaired persons plus a helper all day everyday, the RBC's proposals would see disabled people having to pay for bus travel before 09:30 and after 23:00 - and free travel for their helpers would be abolished altogether. In addition, disabled people would have to pay for all travel on the hop-and-stop style Readibus service.

Ginnette Hargreaves-Lees (Unite, left), Nada Al-Sanjari (NEU, right) and
John Partington (TSSA, second right) of RTUC join DPAC protesters
The June meeting of RBC is unlikely to decide policy on disabled persons' bus travel concessions - it will continue to be debated in July and perhaps also in September - so DPAC and others supportive of disabled people's struggles for life and liberty have time to make their case for the retention of free bus travel. As RTUC's involvement demonstrates, DPAC is keen to build a broad coalition - so those interested in supporting the campaign should contact Berkshire DPAC via its Chair, Merry Cross, on jollyangry@gmail.com.