The Socialist

The Socialist 24 February 2021

Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

The Socialist issue 1122

Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

Vaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality

Garment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage


Starmer's speech a return to New Labour


Justice for Moyied Bashir

Uber drivers win case - they are workers

Social care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run


How militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act


Usdaw elections - right makes gains but Broad Left builds

HMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions

Hinkley Point electricians fight 'deskilling'

"I'm here to fight for the future education of children in Hackney"

London bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours

GMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas

Scunthorpe steelworks scaffolders: Fifth week of action


Liverpool Unite branch supports 'no cuts' budget strategy

Scottish TUSC election campaign launch

Keep the fighting fund rushing in for a TUSC stand in May


W. Sussex children's centres on the chopping block

Coventry success building subscriptions

Socialist Students conference - postering

Save John Carroll Leisure Centre

Getting the Socialist out in lockdown


Pride flag is about unity in struggle

Tories tout toilet tensions


Nigeria: Abbey Trotsky on trial for assisting workers' struggle

Facebook v Australian government: nationalise the bosses' media!


Film Review: The White Tiger

Tories admit guilt for asylum seeker neglect

Tories target universities in free speech shakedown

The Socialist Inbox

 
 
 
 
 

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Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

Safe phased return based on infection rates not politicians' dates

Empty Classroom

Empty Classroom   (Click to enlarge)

Martin Powell-Davies, Socialist Party in education (SPinED)

Boris Johnson has announced his 'road map' to ease lockdown, including a timetable for full reopening of schools in England on 8 March. The youngest primary school pupils in Wales began returning in full on 22 February.

Education unions must be ready to respond with collective action to any reckless proposal which puts the government's short-term economic interests ahead of the long-term safety of our schools and communities.

In a welcome move, nine education unions and governance organisations issued a statement warning that a full return of all pupils would be "reckless", bringing "nearly ten million pupils and staff into circulation in England, close to one fifth of the population... It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education, and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown."

Even during lockdown, schools have still been open to vulnerable pupils and children of key workers. Nobody wants to stop schools opening fully for longer than is necessary. Online learning, if set to the demands of an unchanged curriculum, puts pressure on staff, students, parents and carers.

However, as the joint statement says: "It would be counterproductive if there is a danger of causing another surge in the virus, and the potential for a further period of lockdown. Wider opening must be safe and sustainable."

The warning is correct but, sadly, it will take more than joint statements to make ministers think again. It was the action of tens of thousands of education staff asserting their individual rights under 'Section 44' - not to attend an unsafe workplace - that forced Johnson to back down in January. Education unions now need to have the courage to advise members of their rights once again.

But education unions, and especially the National Education Union (NEU), need to go further. We must prepare members to use their collective strength, including through balloting for industrial action, to resist any unsafe return, based on clear and specific demands about what constitutes a safe wider opening.

Our demands can be objectively based on the advice of experts, like Independent Sage, who have analysed the latest scientific evidence and the government's own data. For example, they have pointed out that infection rates fell least in January among primary-aged children - precisely those settings where attendance has remained high. This is yet another indication of the role schools can play in community transmission.

What are we demanding?

Socialist Party members in the NEU are helping to draft a motion to be debated at the union's executive on 24 February, based on the demands below.

The NEU calls on all employers to abide by their responsibilities to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees and other persons affected by employers' actions, through:

  • No school opens more widely unless 'R' is less than one, and the local infection rate is below 100 per 100,000 confirmed cases a week
  • No school opens with more than 50% class sizes until the rate is below 50 per 100,000 confirmed cases a week
  • The wearing of masks by school students in primary, secondary and post-16 classes
  • Staff who are assessed to be at higher risk of severe illness, or who live with people at high risk, being able to support teaching and learning from home.
  • Measures in place to protect the welfare of students, through a focus on a recovery curriculum that recognises the impact of the pandemic on mental health, and the welfare of staff through ensuring reasonable workload
  • Clear agreed risk assessments that ensure acceptable measures are in place in every workplace, particularly early years, special educational needs and disability and other settings, where students may not be able to securely follow social distancing and other mitigation measures

Where employers fail to meet these necessary steps, the national union will:

  • Advise the use of Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, where members face a serious and imminent danger to their health and safety.
  • Support industrial action ballots at school, district and regional level to secure these steps
An online meeting for NEU members on this issue has been called by Martin Powell-Davies' campaign for deputy general secretary - 28 February, 4pm-5:30pm. You can get the Zoom details by subscribing for updates at martin4dgs.co.uk

In this issue


Covid

Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

Vaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality

Garment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage


What we think

Starmer's speech a return to New Labour


News

Justice for Moyied Bashir

Uber drivers win case - they are workers

Social care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run


Lessons from history

How militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act


Workplace news

Usdaw elections - right makes gains but Broad Left builds

HMRC: Divisive pay deal leads to expulsions

Hinkley Point electricians fight 'deskilling'

"I'm here to fight for the future education of children in Hackney"

London bus dispute against low pay, pay cuts and longer hours

GMB members continue fight against 'fire and rehire' in British Gas

Scunthorpe steelworks scaffolders: Fifth week of action


TUSC

Liverpool Unite branch supports 'no cuts' budget strategy

Scottish TUSC election campaign launch

Keep the fighting fund rushing in for a TUSC stand in May


Campaigns news

W. Sussex children's centres on the chopping block

Coventry success building subscriptions

Socialist Students conference - postering

Save John Carroll Leisure Centre

Getting the Socialist out in lockdown


LGBT+ history month

Pride flag is about unity in struggle

Tories tout toilet tensions


International news

Nigeria: Abbey Trotsky on trial for assisting workers' struggle

Facebook v Australian government: nationalise the bosses' media!


Readers' opinion

Film Review: The White Tiger

Tories admit guilt for asylum seeker neglect

Tories target universities in free speech shakedown

The Socialist Inbox


 

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