The email below went out to all our members in schools on the evening of Friday 27th May 2020.
Dear UNISON Member,
I apologise for sending another email today, but we wanted to ensure you were fully aware of the situation as we approach the close of the last working day before Monday.
We are very disappointed to report that despite us raising a number of concerns, Salford City Council have still not taken the step of a number of other local authorities – including Sheffield today – and asked schools not to open more widely on Monday.
We have again today raised concerns about the continued risks caused by the following factors:
- Lack of proven and effective track and trace mechanism
- Lack of tests for those who are asymptomatic
- A reproduction (R) rate that seems to be approaching 1 nationally and may be higher locally
- Failure to address the disproportionate impact on people from BAME communities
- The acknowledgement within local risk assessments that there are high risks of breaching social distancing in communal areas, toilets and playgrounds.
- The further recognition in the local risk assessments that lunchtimes despite staggering times for children and staff will also be high risk.
We have been very clear with the Council that its public health duty and duty to its employees (for those of you directly employed by the Council) demands that they speak out. However, they have so far not been willing to do so.
Therefore, if you are required to return to school on Monday and you feel that you are at risk at any point, please contact us immediately. Under Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, you have the right to remove yourself from a situation where you fear your health and safety is placed at imminent risk. We would recommend you contact us before you take the decision to remove yourself from the workplace and we will support members who feel it necessary to take this course of action.
Monday is not the end of the matter for us. The situation will be kept under constant review and we will continue to make representations on your behalf.
We have a meeting for all members on Tuesday at 7pm (details contained within the email) and would encourage you to attend. We are also conscious that we don’t have email addresses for all our members, so if you have colleagues in UNISON who do not receive these emails, please forward this on and ask them to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can ensure they receive future emails.
Steve North, Branch Secretary