Urgent School Update – Tuesday 9th June 2020

The information below was sent out to our members in Salford schools on Tuesday 9th June 2020.

Urgent School Update

Yesterday morning ,23 of our members at a primary school in Salford took a decision (with our full support) to inform their Head Teacher that, as a result of plans to expand school provision beyond vulnerable and key worker children, they would only be prepared to work from home until they were satisfied it had been made safe. They have maintained that position today.

This step, along with our lobbying efforts and good support from many councillor and trade union allies, led to a decision at last night’s Labour Group meeting, which brings together the city’s ruling Labour councillors, to pass the attached motion (see bottom of page).

The motion is welcome in that agrees there should be no further extensions of school opening until at least 22nd June and commits to, ”support the position adopted by the education unions, including the right of their members not to place themselves in an unsafe situation”. The motion also stresses the need for risk assessments to be urgently revised in light of the information which came out on Friday about the increased R number and for an industrial committee to be set up so that the unions are directly involved in these decisions going forward.

It should not have taken until last night to get this motion passed and we still have questions that need to be answered about why it did. The delay means that any extension of opening prior to today is still sanctioned by the Council. This potentially means that a number of our members are in unsafe work places, where risk assessments must be urgently revisited.

Therefore, we are again sharing with you the wording (at the bottom of this email) to send to your Headteacher if you’re school has already extended opening as of today, and you do not feel that it is safe.

To be very clear, it is incumbent on your school to prove to you that it is safe by producing a revised risk assessment based on the change in circumstances (including the increased R number), since the original one was conducted. The motion itself accepts this is a priority. If that has not happened and you choose to do as some of our members have already done and send the email below rather than attend school, we will support you. Based on the motion they passed tonight, we would expect Labour councillors and the City Mayor to do the same.

Wording to Head Teacher

“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.

Labour Group Motion