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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 October 2020

National Education Union must launch action now

Teacher primary school classroom US Department of Education (Creative Commons)

Teacher primary school classroom US Department of Education (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Jane Nellist, Coventry NEU

With growing case numbers in schools for both staff and students, which in turn leads to high numbers isolating, the National Education Union (NEU) urgently needs to make a stand.

We want the education of our students to be paramount, but we are not prepared to put at risk the health and safety of staff, students and communities. We need to force the government to act now.

Covid-19 will not be controlled by hope and good intentions. It needs a strong union that is ready to use all of its democratic power - including ballots for strike action. Calling all-members meetings in schools to discuss the situation should be a vital immediate step.

We have some of the largest class sizes, and the smallest classrooms, in Europe. Social distancing has been impossible to maintain in many schools. Cramped corridors, the lack of toilet facilities, and windows that don't give sufficient ventilation add to the problems.

Five tests

The full reopening of schools in September was always going to create huge risks, especially without the NEU's 'five tests' firmly met - much lower case numbers, national plans for social distancing, fully functional test and trace, whole-school containment strategies, and protection for the vulnerable.

With no 'Plan B' and no confidence in a government that was reeling from one disaster to another, it was a critical error on the part of the union's leadership not to stand firm. The NEU nationally should have made clear we would refuse to comply with a full return, unless full resources and a defined trigger for 'blended learning' and reduced class numbers were in place.

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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 14 October 2020:


Coronavirus news

Locked down, hard up, fight back!

As school cases soar - is contact tracing 'near breaking point'?

Even more delay in stopping school transmission?

National Education Union must launch action now

Nottingham Covid surge caused by Tory mismanagement

Under the microscope


Students

Students not to blame for unsafe uni conditions

"It's not fair" - lockdown students demand free education

Students speak out: isolation and uncertainty reign

Building a movement to fight for free education


What we think

Unite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour


Workplace news

Usdaw elections: the battle for a fighting union

NEU Special Conference: A fight for safety in schools is urgently needed

Napo AGM 2020: Celebrating probation victory and preparing for challenges ahead

University workers ballot for action against in-person teaching

Stop Royal Mail's profit-driven plans to force postal workers to share vans

Unison: The Socialist is backing Hugo Pierre - for a fighting socialist general secretary!


Co-ops

Are cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?


Campaigns

Stop NHS meltdown

Transport for London funding crunch

Oliver Campbell - Still fighting for justice

Fighting Fund - we're off to a good start


Obituary

Obituary: Raph Parkinson 1958-2020


International news

Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists

Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit


Readers' opinion

Non-fiction: This Land - the story of a movement

The Socialist Inbox


 

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