Massive protest against loss of disabled people’s rights takes over Madrid

5 Dec

OVER 50,000 people, able-bodied and wheelchair-bound, joined a massive demonstration through Madrid on Sunday protesting against the ‘backward-moving’ policies which they say are robbing disabled people of their basic rights.
Some say they have lost their 400-euro monthly benefit, others say they have never received it, and cutbacks in funding for social services and healthcare mean many disabled people are struggling more than ever.

One young woman said she is entitled to no more than 55 hours of home care per month, and now has to pay for part of it herself, which she cannot afford.

Her partner was later fired from his job because he needed to work part-time in order to look after her.

And a deaf man said he had to pay 3,000 euros for a hearing aid and could not afford it.

We are trying to fight against our illnesses already we should not have to fight for our basic rights, too, another woman said.

The protesters said that in the last 30 years, improvements had been made albeit modest ones in helping disabled people integrate into everyday society, fund their care and medication, and get jobs.

But they say these positive steps forward are now heading backwards, with creation of jobs for the disabled being stopped and integration policies scrapped, meaning many disabled people fear they may lose their jobs.

And over 60,000 workers in Spain’s 2,000 specialist support centres could face redundancy due to lack of government funding and the fact that many regional governments have failed to pay these centres what they owe them.

It is said that regional governments across the country owe more than 300 million euros to disabled support centres.

Unions say the government’s labour reform makes disabled employees’ jobs even less secure, and those who are on a permanent rather than temporary job contract have fallen in number by 22 per cent.

The labour reform even allows firms to fire staff who take too many days off sick when they produce a sick-note.

Leaders of Spain’s main unions say this should not be allowed to apply to disabled employees.

Over 300 bus-loads of disabled people and their families, friends and carers, as well as professionals in the sector, came from all over Spain, with volunteers on hand to guide blind people who joined in.

An estimated eight per cent of Spain’s population (four million out of the total of 47 million) are disabled.

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