Fight for the Rights of Workers with Disabilities Now and in the post-Covid Era

The International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD) is commemorated worldwide on 3 December. This year’s IDPWD, as with the last one, is coming up in the midst of a pandemic of historic proportion. The Covid-19 global emergency has had drastic effects on virtually everybody on earth.

Almost all of us (except the vaccine and other pandemic products billionaires) have been bruised in one way or the other. In this context, it is easy for most people to lose sight of the fact that people with disabilities, particularly poor working-class people with disabilities, have been the most affected in several ways.

Economically, eking a living has become more challenging, particularly for people living with disabilities in the informal economy or on precarious employment. And socially restrictions on movement have had dire consequences for people living with disabilities. This has been both directly and indirectly, by constricting some of their support systems, particularly in the Global South.   

PSI affiliates have been standing up for the rights of workers with disabilities.

Covid-19, as many have repeatedly noted, has both revealed and exacerbated existing social and economic inequalities. As the world struggles to defeat SARS-CoV-2 and the storm it has thrown up, and equally plan for a Covid-19 world, we need to be conscious of and combat ableism in all its forms.

This requires policies which role back marginalization, discrimination, vulnerability, and exploitation of people with disabilities, and the concrete implementation of these policies. “Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security” as Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations noted in his 2021 IDPWD statement.

People with disabilities must be centrally involved in the formulation and implementation of policies that protect and promote their rights and interests. PSI affiliates have been standing up for the rights of workers with disabilities.

We need to do more of this and ensure that social protection systems in our countries adequately serve to secure the welfare and wellbeing of workers with disabilities. We also need to build stronger ties with associations of people living with disabilities in our communities, countries and internationally, to combat ableism in all spheres of society.

“Fighting for rights in the post-Covid era”, which is the theme of the 2021 IDPWD requires we all stand up against ableism and social inequalities NOW.