Education unions

Unite, schools, and 1 June

The big union Unite has signed up to the “education unions' statement on the safe reopening of schools". This statement calls on the government “to step back from 1 June” and identifies the following core principles: • Safety and welfare of pupils and staff as the paramount principle • No increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme • A national Covid-19 education taskforce with government, unions and education stakeholders to agree statutory guidance for safe reopening of schools • Consideration of the specific needs of vulnerable students and families...

Debate on the NEU and balloting

1. Todd Hamer To the casual observer there is something very odd about what is happening in the National Education Union (NEU). For some weeks the NEU leadership has rightly argued that it would be unsafe to reopen schools until there is a lower number of Coronavirus cases making possible tracing and testing (Test 1 of the NEU’s famous 5 Tests). Many people think this is very reasonable and nobody expects it to be achieved by 1 June. But instead of organising national refusal to work, the NEU has busied its reps with a 22 page checklist which is supposed to reveal whether it is safe for their...

It's your right to refuse unsafe work

As workers are encouraged to return to the workplace, as part of the government’s botched and reckless easing of lockdown measures, an urgent discussion is taking place across workplaces and through unions about resisting a lurch back to work in unsafe conditions. School workers’ unions are organising to resist a planned reopening from 1 June of schools (beyond the vulnerable and key workers’ children for whom they have remained open throughout. Joe Anderson, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, and some other Labour councils have said they support the NEU’s “five tests” which the union says must be...

Schools and the Tories' 1 June

On Sunday 10 May, in a pre-recorded message, Boris Johnson, stated the government’s desire to open primary schools to all Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils on 1 June. He also said he hoped that Year 10 and Year 12 would be able to get some face to face contact in the near future. Further guidance from the government then added nursery age children in primary schools to that list. The announcement was shocking and reckless, and sent a paroxysm of fear through school workers, particularly in primary schools. The science for the “reopening” seemed very weak at best. Recognising (as primary...

The job battles to come

Government figures say 27% of workers went on the official furlough scheme in late March and early April. The government is to cover 80% of their wages, and employer may or may not make up the other 20%. The scheme is due to end on 30 June. The government says it will be “tapered off”, not ended suddenly. The chief driver of Boris Johnson’s “back to work tomorrow” announcement on 10 May looks to have been the government’s wish to reduce its furlough bills, and avoid further bills for its (lavish) aid to big business and (now increased) aid to small business. The government also wants to...

When and how can schools re-open?

The debate about schools re-opening has intensified in the last week. It is clear that the government and their closest media friends have decided to ramp up the pressure to open. On April 30th Johnson let it be known that he would make a major announcement the following week on government plans to...

The SWP and high-stakes testing

By Duncan Morrison

For the last four years members of the Socialist Workers’ Party have fought militantly AGAINST the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and then the National Education Union (NEU) balloting its members to boycott SATs and the other high-stakes test in primary schools.

That’s right,...

Organising an NEU branch in the Covid 19 Crisis

By a Lewisham school worker

When the schools closed on 20th March the national union had already asked reps to set up WhatsApp groups for their school groups. In Lewisham we encouraged our reps to do this. The branch has weekly Zoom meetings open to all activists. These meetings enable us to monitor...

Schools: operating partial opening

Two or three weeks ago we were discussing with other left-wingers in the union the slogan of closing all schools straight away, and we were against it because of the impact on children of key workers, free-school-meals children, etc. Since Monday 21 March the schools have been partially shut, but kept open for those categories of children. In my school I've raised the issue of pay for supply teachers - and got agreement on full pay for them - and of contracted-out school meals providers - where we haven't won yet. The school system is now fragmented (with academies, free schools, etc.), so...

Industrial news in brief

UVW at St George's Outsourced security workers in the United Voices of the World union (UVW) at St. George’s University in Tooting, south London, are continuing their campaign for equality. UVW members and supporters recently occupied the lobby of the main St. George’s building during a university open day, holding an impromptu rally addressed by St. George’s strikers, UVW reps from victorious anti-outsourcing campaigns at LSE and St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, and an RMT activist. UVW is also preparing what it describes as a “landmark legal case” to challenging outsourcing in court. The...

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