Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1084/30703
Schools: No return without a national union agreement that guarantees safety!
National Education Union (NEU) members have put forward the following model motion at meetings on opposing the reopening of schools unless safe.
This District/Branch/School Meeting/Committee:
1) Welcomes the huge support for the NEU petition opposing any reopening of schools until it is safe to do so.
2) Recognises the pressures on school communities that both school closures and the more general lockdown are causing, especially for the most disadvantaged and the families of keyworkers. However, we also recognise that schools are places where there is a significant risk of transmission of Covid-19. In demanding a safe return for staff, we are therefore also ensuring that we are prioritising the health of our school communities too.
3) Opposes leaving the responsibility for decisions about a safe return solely down to union negotiations with individual schools or employers. While the detailed application would need to also be worked out at these levels, the NEU should make clear that no NEU member should return to work until and unless there is a clear national union agreement that guarantees a safe return for all our members, in all schools and settings.
4) Believes that a national agreement must:
a) Ensure World Health Organization recommendations are being followed before any return begins. These require infection to be first down to a level where transmission is under control and that sufficient capacity for testing and contact tracing is in place.
b) Ensure that there is guaranteed provision for regular repeat testing of school staff and for prompt tracing and isolation of contacts, including immediate re-closure of schools, on full pay, if required to ensure isolation occurs.
c) Reduces risks by ensuring that student numbers attending on any day will remain substantially reduced until it is certain that Covid-19 transmission has remained under control.
d) Also include requirements on other key provisions including:
prior training for staff; PPE; provision for staff in high-risk categories; the provision of regular sufficient cleaning; safety on transport; counselling; specific risk assessments in each workplace; funding to recruit additional staff required as well as correcting any unequal treatment suffered by supply staff.
e) Make clear that there will be no requirement on staff to work during the summer holidays. Instead, additional funding should be provided for fully funded free summer playscheme provision.
5) Calls on the union to put any draft agreement out to consultation to districts and then agreement by a full online meeting of the NEU national executive.
6) Further calls on the union to make clear that, should any attempt be made to open schools without such an agreement, the union will support members in not returning to work in line with relevant employment law and health and safety legislation.
Download the full version of the motion from https://bit.ly/2VFv0cD
In The Socialist 27 April 2020:
Lessons from history
Organising during coronavirus