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The full inclusion of persons with disabilities requires inclusive social dialogue

The EESC hosted a side event at the Conference of State Parties to CRPD in New York

The implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) cannot be successful without fully including persons with disabilities (PWDs) in society and in the economy, by means of decent work in an inclusive labour system.  

This was one of the main conclusions of a side event held during the 11th session of the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD (COSP), co-hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and held in June at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Panellists and speakers made the point that social dialogue and collective bargaining can be powerful instruments to achieve equality for persons with disability, by adapting labour systems at local, regional and international level, but they have to be made more inclusive.

PWDs and their representatives' organisations (DPOs) have an active role to play in this and should take inspiration from the campaign that the trade unions fought to secure their place at the negotiating table. "Social dialogue was won, not offered on a plate", said Ioannis Vardakastanis, EESC member and speaker at the event.

There needs to be a change in the view that companies and employers have on disability and structures have to be established to enable dialogue between business, trade unions and civil society, including DPOs. This point was raised by Marie Zvolská, also speaking at the event as representative of EESC's Employers' Group and Chair of the EESC group on Disability Rights.

EESC's Member Bo Jansson, from the Worker's Group, co-chaired the side event with Sandra Vermuyten from Public Service International. The co-organisers were the European Disability Forum (EDF), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

It is already the second time that a delegation from the EESC – which was represented by Ms Zvolska, Mr Jansson and Mr Vardakastanis – participated in this annual event, which has taken place every year since 2007, providing the State Parties to the Convention with an opportunity to meet and discuss topics related to the Convention's implementation.

In addition to the side event on social dialogue, Mr Vardakastanis also took part as a speaker in the Civil Society CRPD Forum on 11 June and in the following side events: "Disability at the stage of instability in the Arab world – Safety and security of persons with disabilities in situations of conflict and violence”, organised by the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Arab Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (AOPD); "New ways of employment and social inclusion to leave no one behind", organised by the Permanent Mission of Spain to the UN and the National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE) in Spain, "Nothing about us without us - General comment on meaningful participation", organised by the Permanent Missions of Germany, Thailand and Denmark to the UN.

On June 13, the EESC delegation, together with representatives from DG EMPL and the EP, was also received by the EU delegation in New York and discussed ways to improve the implementation of the UNCRPD.