Complaint to the TUC

Rob Punton is the coordinator of the A4I Coproduction Subgroup. He attended the TUC march and rally held in London on 18 June 2022. The shameful treatment of some activists by the TUC has warranted the following complaint by Rob to the TUC.

“This is my official complaint to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) regarding
the treatment I experienced surrounding their march and rally held on 18th
June 2022,”

“It has been a tough time for everyone recently with enormous increases in
the cost-of-living and stagnant household incomes everyone is fearful for
their futures. As disabled people we not only fear for our lifestyles we are
scared we may not even survive.”

“So, when I heard the TUC were holding a march and a rally, I was
determined to be there, even though I had not been to London since lock
down ended (3 years). The TUC did a lot of excellent work ensuring as many
people as possible could attend, this included providing free coaches to get
people there. When I enquired about provision for wheelchair users, I hit a
dead end. They had discussed a plan but that plan never came into being an
actual physical thing.”

“I must thank Stand Up To Racism and Disabled People Against the Cuts fir
contributing to my accommodation and travel costs enabling me to attend.
Once I got there, I was uplifted to see so many attending from across our
nation, to make a stand against our uncaring, cruel government.”

“I made my way to the front so as not to get swamped by the crowd. At this
point let me point out I am aware that there was an accessible shorter
march, but I decided to take on the longer march, which is my right.”

“When the march began, I set off. This is when encountered my first TUC
steward, she asked me to move aside to let the front of the march through, I
reluctantly agreed and slipped back into the pack. Which meant I had to be
doubly vigilante to ensure I did not hurt people by bumping into them as
they varied their pace in front of me.”

“Things continued without further incident until about a third if the way
around the march another steward approached me from behind and
demanded I move aside. This time I decided to ignore him, but he persisted,
and I persisted ignoring him. My personal assistant Darren, who was
supporting me noticed the situation and intervened on my behalf. During
this exchange I was concentrating on steering my chair ensuring I did not
injured people around me. The steward became rude and aggressive
towards my P.A. (Personal Assistant), this caused people around us to get
involved, which resulted un him realising he was in the wrong, he then
refused to engage and acted like a truculent toddler. The march continued
for me without further incident.”

“At the end of the march, we were shown to the accessible viewing point for
wheelchair users, which frankly was a joke, however not a funny one. The
viewing area was directly behind a stone statue. I know that some believe
that we are compensated for having impairments, I can guarantee you this
does not include superheroes powers that enable us to see through solid
objects. Even if the view was not obstructed, we were miles away from the
stage, even the most eagle eyed would have struggled.”

“So, another trek was needed to somehow find a place where we could see
and hear the speakers.”

“Ironically as this was playing out Dave Allen from the Disabled section of
TUC was on stage telling the rally how the TUC was supporting disabled
people both in employment and those unable to work, which I found quire
funny in a sick sense. Blame my sense of humour.”

“In conclusion it just remains for me to say it proves little or no thought is
given to the needs of disabled people when organising events,”

“My message to the TUC is this: Disabled people have enough trouble
fighting our adversaries without battling our allies. Sort yourselves out!”

“With friends like you who needs enemies?”

“To throw the words of the TUC back at them:

“I am sending pictures as further evidence.”

“Paula Peters is sending an account of her own experiences and observations”

Signed: Rob Punton
Dated 19th June 2022