TUC Black Workers Conference - Credit Jess Hurd
TUC Black Workers' Conference
Credit: Jess Hurd

TUC equality conferences 2023

We report back on the latest developments from the TUC equality conferences that have taken place during 2023.

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Delegates (left to right) - James Kerry, Chris Rimell, Jack Brasser - credit: Rod Leon
Delegates: James Kerry, Chris Rimell, Jack Brasser
Credit: Rod Leon

TUC LGBT+ workers' conference

The TUC LGBT+ workers’ conference was held at the end of June in London. And this year’s theme was allyship, unity & solidarity. A range of topics were up for discussion including the horrific government decisions to detail LGBT+ refugees (most of whom are arriving through legal means and fleeing persecution in their own country, only to be detained and then deported to another unsafe country), the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis, pay gap reporting, and the rights of Trans & non-binary workers.

Conference was opened by a minute silence for Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans woman who was murdered in February 2023. This set the tone for conference as Maria Exall, the first out LGBT+ president of the TUC, said:



Transphobia is the gateway to the suppression of all LGBT+ people. Trans misogyny is part of the problem of misogynism that all women face and political parties are accommodating a morale panic to divide us on this issue.

Where reactionary forces try to divide us, we must unite. We must challenge the direct attacks that are being made on the employment rights of Trans people. We must fight to ensure the loophole on conversion therapy for Trans people is closed – when the government finally make good on their word. And we must resist changes in education that seek to effectively bring back Section 28 by the back door.

Maria Exall, TUC President

Delegate quotes & more

Accord Officer, Chris Rimell

The LGBT+ workers’ conference is a truly welcoming and safe space for all. What always strikes me about this conference is the clear and wide understanding that the challenges that face LGBT+ people are global issues with clear links between domestic and international politics. There’s also a shared understanding that when one part of the community is under attack, it’s a doorway to the suppression of the rights of others too. The LGBT+ community is broad, uniting those who don’t conform to gender or sexuality norms. We’re not all the same, but we do all want the same thing – to be protected, and to be respected for who we are. It’s given us food for thought to make our members’ working lives better.”

Chris Rimell

New TUC research launched at conference which investigates the extent to which the progress of recent decades in embedding formal legal protections for LGBT+ workers has translated into positive and inclusive experiences of the workplace. 

The results are worrying: despite LGBT+ workers being protected by law from discrimination, harassment and bullying, too many still experienced the workplace as a negative or even harmful. The report shows that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still very real in the workplace.

Want to know more?

Accord Officer, Jack Brasser

I had an amazing time at the TUC LGBT+ Conference. It was so inspiring to hear from different speakers and activists who shared their stories and perspectives on various issues affecting the queer community. I learned a lot about the history, challenges and achievements of the LGBTQIA+ movement, as well as the current struggles and opportunities for change. I also met some wonderful people who made me feel welcome and supported.

Jack Brasser
Accord delegates - Lydia Mulligan, Sheeba Hamid, Nickul Hathi - credit: Rod Leon
Delegates: Lydia Mulligan, Sheeba Hamid, Nickul Hathi
Credit: Rod Leon

TUC Black workers’ conference

Delegates at the three-day conference, held at Congress House in London in May, discussed the impacts of Covid-19 on minority workers, the cost-of-living crisis, the rights of migrant workers and asylum seekers, equal representation, health inequality and racism within trade unionism – including details on the implementation and oversight of the anti-racism taskforce.

Paul Nowak, TUC General Secretary, opened conference and highlighted the ‘huge part’ that racism still plays in today’s job market.

He urged:


Ministers must take bold action to confront this inequality. The obvious first step is mandatory ethnicity pay gap analysis. This will make employers confront the inequalities in their own workforces – and act to fix them.

Business and unions are united in their support for compulsory pay gap monitoring. Ministers must bring it in without delay.


Through the event there were debates, workshops and panel discussions along the theme ‘Organising for Racial Justice’. Accord sent three delegates to the conference, including two members of Accord’s Principal Executive Council. 

Accord PEC member - Sheeba Hamid

It was great to be back at the TUC for the Black workers' conference, after what seems like an eternity due to the pandemic. There were some brilliant motions being debated and some memorable speakers, including Labour MP Clive Lewis and the founders of Amazon’s very first labour union in the US! There is much to do in enhancing the working and lived experiences of minority workers both in the workplace, and in wider society. I’m looking forward to building some of this into our own Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda with Chris Rimell. Keep your eyes peeled!

Sheeba Hamid
Accord Officer - Lydia Mulligan

I found the conference inspiring and left feeling charged to help us tackle the many challenges that were highlighted throughout conference. It was great to see so many people coming together from different backgrounds to say that we won't put up with the unequal impact of things like Covid-19 or the cost-of-living crisis. And we're all focused on tackling racism both inside the union movement as well as externally. There's definitely strength in numbers. We can tackle anything when we work together.

Lydia Mulligan
Accord delegates - Ellie Gent and Richard Joyce
Delegates: Ellie Gent & Richard Joyce

TUC Disabled workers’ conference

Accord was represented by Ellie Gent & Richard Joyce at the TUC Disabled workers’ conference which took place in Bournemouth on the 11 & 12 July. It was the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that disabled trade union activists have met face-to-face, and it won’t come as a surprise that the pandemic has left a long shadow on the lives of many disabled workers.

The TUC opened conference by presenting updated research into the disability pay gap – which currently stands at 17.2% compared to non-disabled workers. The TUC called for mandatory pay gap reporting to complement our understanding of the gender pay gap – the pay gap for disabled women is as high as 35%.

Paul Novak, TUC General Secretary, stressed the need for mandatory disability pay gap reporting alongside increasing the minimum wage to £15 per hour - one of the TUC's current campaigns. Paul reported that 69% of disabled employees currently earn less than that.

Throughout the two-day event, conference was addressed by guest speakers including Maria Exall, TUC President, and Vicky Foxcroft MP, Shadow Minister for disabled people.

Twenty-three motions were debated during the event on a range of issues currently affecting disabled people in the workplace - including access to reasonable adjustments and the effective use of adjustment passports, the impact of Long Covid on working life, supporting disabled young people entering the workforce, and the general benefits of hybrid and flexible working.

An emergency motion reflected on the impact of the proposed closures of train station ticket offices – a vital lifeline for disabled people and those that find technology inaccessible to them. A second emergency motion raised concerns about recent media reports of disabled people and how to improve and hold the media to account and reduce the negative narratives which do harm to disabled people.



The disabled workers’ conference gives unions the ability to meet and discuss concerns and issues across a wide range of industries. It also gives us opportunity to refocus our minds and efforts on the challenges being faced every day. Together, we can improve the working environment for disabled people, and remove the societal barriers that cause disability. It was great to be able to do this in person after 3 years of Covid.

Although Accord didn’t have any motions of our own at this year’s conference, by attending we’re able to feed wider issues faced by disabled people into the union’s planning and support our members more effectively.

Richard Joyce & Ellie Gent

The social model of disability

We use the social model of disability which sees the exclusion and discrimination faced by disabled people as caused by the barriers that exist in society, and not inevitable as a result of someone’s impairment. For example, someone with a mobility impairment becomes disabled when they encounter a building or service that's inaccessible to them due to the way it's been designed. It’s the poor design that disables the person, not their impairment.

There can be multiple barriers in workplaces that union members can change – they might be physical, attitudinal, or related to communication.

You can find more information about this in the below TUC resource.

Find out about the social model of disability