1 April to 7 April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Week. It is taking place in PCS during a crucial time during our pay ballot.
In order to explain, Autism is a neurological disability that impairs one’s ability to think, learn, perform daily duties and socially interact. The TUC has guidelines for the required reasonable adjustments that can accommodate Autistic people at work.
I encourage all Autistic and other Neurodivergent PCS members to cast their vote in this pay ballot and take on more active roles in this trade union. PCS is working closely with Janine Booth from the RMT and the Labour Party in promoting Autism/Neurodiversity along with the huge support from John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor. By encouraging more people with these conditions to become active in our trade union, we can tackle the huge discrimination that Autistic people face: 84% do not have full time employment and only a further 9% have part-time jobs.
In addition, we need to start the campaigning against hate crimes that are inflicted on people with these conditions and the institutionalised disabilism within our society. This prejudice includes rogue companies and “quacks” who market false and dangerous “treatments” for “cures” that have the most devastating effect on Autistic/Neurodivergent children’s health. We need to take into account the needs of migrant workers and others of ethnic backgrounds who are Neurodivergent or have Neurodivergent children since they face a combination of racism and disability discrimination.
Outside PCS, I work closely with Janine and the Shadow Chancellor in encouraging all Neurodivergent people to become active in the Labour Party. Labour was the first political party to endorse Autism/Neurodiversity in its manifesto during the general election of 2017. Also, Mark Serwotka was the first trade union general secretary to speak at our Autism/Neurodiversity fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in 2018. In February 2019, John McDonnell spoke at the launch of Neurodivergent Labour and I am taking up an organising role. We will be encouraging Neurodivergent people to stand as councillors, regional assembly members and MPs. Therefore, I encourage PCS Neurodivergent members to do the same in standing for positions on the BEC, GEC and NEC. There needs to be education and training about autism/neurodiversity at all levels for trade unions, political decision-makers, employers, administrators of justice, education staff, public service providers, parents and everyone.