Sean McGovern Disability Rights Campaigner and activist, died 6 May 2020.
He chaired the Disabled Members Committee for Unite union for 12yrs, representing disabled workers on the executive committee. He was also co-chair of the Trade Union Congress TUC and Branch Secretary for London’s 5 Remploy factories.
He was a well known and highly respected campaigner and activist for disability rights. At the TUC rally last 2011 he and hundreds of thousands of anti cuts demonstrators . Sean spoke out against the coalition government and austerity measures. He highlighted the devastating effects of cuts to disability benefits, to care and support services, to employment support and Remploy closures.
Sean’s blog April 1st 2020 resulted in Lambeth council sending letters to people on Direct Payments so that their personal assistants could use them to show supermarkets, so they could shop for disabled workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He relentlessly promoted disability equality. At the TUC virtual meeting 22nd April 2020 he asked Kier Starmer, Leader of the Labour party, to set up a National Independent Living Service. 5 days later the TUC discussed how the Disabled workers committee could campaign for disabled people to have equal rights to medical equipment and personal protective equipment PPE.
Sean McGovern played a significant role in persuading the TUC and the Labour party to stop and get rid of Universal Credit.
He wanted to make sure that disabled people had a national service instead of one that depended on where they lived, the ‘postcode lottery’ where some had good support and in other regions support was inadequate.
Sean came from a proud working-class background, he was known for his quick wit and short temper as well as his great sense of style, commitment, his principles, his caring and persistence. He brought people together and made sure that the rights of disabled people were always considered.
Former shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, said he was an inspirational socialist, trade unionist and campaigner. Len Mccluskey, General secretary of Unite the Union, said that ‘the greatest memorial to his life and work must be to pick up and carry forward the cause of the rights of disabled workers which he championed to the last’.