Urgent Update for School Members and Press Release

The information below was sent out to all UNISON members working in Salford schools on 7th June 2020. It has since been shared with City Mayor Paul Dennett, Lead Member for Schools John Merry, Salford City Council officers, our partner unions, Salford’s three MPs and all of Salford’s Labour councillors. We have asked all councillors to confirm their support for our approach and our members, as they seek to prioritise their health and safety and the welfare of young people.

Advice for members expected to go in to staff the wider opening of schools:

Apologies for the lateness of this email. We have been working hard all weekend to try and get Salford City Council to do the right thing and recommend a delayed extension of opening, including by issuing the attached joint press release with the NEU (see bottom of page). However, the Council and the City Mayor intend to continue with an approach that we believe has been thoroughly discredited. We are incredibly disappointed (to put it mildly) and do intend to take this further.  Following advice from UNISON at a regional and national level, we are sharing the information and advice below. It is vital that you take the time to read it.

Many schools in the region have paused their plans for wider opening following the reported rise in the ‘R’ rate. UNISON is clear that this is absolutely the right thing for schools to do – health and safety of pupils and staff must come first and the danger is very clear with the rise in the ‘R’ Rate. If your school is still currently planning to open more widely this week and you are expected to attend to support this wider opening, and are concerned about your health and safety, then you can use the template wording below to urgently email your headteacher. Please then contact your branch as soon as possible for further advice. UNISON will support you if you believe your health and safety is at serious risk if you go into school

“I’m sending this email pending advice from my union branch. I’m writing to inform you that, in order to protect myself and/or other persons from danger, I won’t be attending [name of school/college] to work there at present. I will be available to work from home. 

The ‘R’ rate in our region has been shown to be above 1 and many schools are therefore delaying their wider opening plans. Understandably given the timing of this news, the school hasn’t shared with me a reviewed risk assessment in light of this change to the ‘R’ rate. Therefore I do not feel reassured that a return to the workplace itself can be safe. 

In the meantime, I am of course willing to carry out any of my duties, or other alternative duties at my current grade, that can reasonably be undertaken from my home. 

Yours sincerely,  

[Employee Name] 

Please copy the branch into this email at diane.ogg@salfordcityunison.org.uk.

We appreciate members may feel reluctant to take this step, but you can be clear with your employer that your union endorses this approach and that we will support you. In order to provide further updates and advice, we have set up a Zoom meeting for school members to take place tomorrow (Monday 8th June) at 4pm. If any questions can be emailed to us in advance, that would help us to address them in the meeting.

Details of Zoom meeting were contained within email.

Urgent Press Release on Extended School Opening – Saturday 6th June 2020