UNISON Northern Ireland

Disability Group

UNISON’s priorities on disability are led by the union’s own disabled members. We help disabled members by fighting discrimination and campaigning on issues such as:

  • improved anti discrimination legislation;

  • negotiating branch disability leave agreements;

  • improving inaccessible workplaces;

  • replacing information systems that don’t meet disabled people’s access needs;

  • eliminating negative attitudes and prejudice from employers, service users and the general public.

The Disability Discrimination Act (1995) offers a range of protections to disabled people but workplace discrimination still affects many people in Northern Ireland.


UNISON members campaign and organise at three levels:

  • Within the workplace: many of our disabled members are active in the workplace, protecting workers’ rights, advising colleagues and highlighting issues. Some hold the position of branch disability or equality officer, others are branch health and safety reps, branch secretaries, learning reps, treasurers, workplace reps, branch chair etc.

  • Regional disabled members groups: each of UNISON’s 12 regions has a disabled members’ group. Each group meets on a regular basis; at its annual general meeting they elect two representatives (at least one of whom must be a woman) to the union’s national disabled members committee.

  • National disabled members committee: the national disabled members committee includes 24 regional representatives and disabled representatives of the union’s national disabled Black, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and deaf members who are native British Sign Language users. The national committee also provides opportunities for other self organised national committees’ disabled co-optees to be involved.

The national disabled members committee organises an annual national conference where disabled branch and regional representatives meet to decide policy proposals and priorities for the year ahead.

These are considered alongside other non-conference matters in the national committee’s work programme that is agreed by the national executive council (NEC).

Conference arrangements also enable disabled visitors to attend as well as non-disabled people to attend as observers.

If you’d like to get involved, contact your regional officer with responsibility for supporting the regional disabled members group to discuss how you can get involved.

UNISON Website Accessibility Survey

The coronavirus page on the UNISON website has been updated with an accessible version (https://covid.reciteme.com/unison/). The UNISON Comms team are running a quick accessibility survey for any disabled members who face barriers accessing the website to identify any accessibility barriers and make improvements.

Complete the short survey here

They also want to organise an individual online chat with any of you who think you have particular access needs that aren't always met by the website. We are looking for people's own lived experience. Please let us know if you think you could help us with this. It would entail an online chat with someone from our web team who will take you through your "user journey" and how the website works (or doesn't work) for your personal access requirements.

⭐️ Please note this survey is in relation to the UNISON National Website https://www.unison.org.uk/, a specific questionnaire is currently being developed for this website to make improvements to accessibility for disabled members in Northern Ireland.