URGENT SCHOOL STAFF
Please read this checklist any questions email:
Please read this checklist any questions email:
“How To Reopen Schools Safely”
Speakers: Jon Richards (UNISON), Kevin Courtney (Joint General Secretary NEU) GMLB speaker to be confirmed, NASUWT speaker to be confirmed
Meeting ID: 865 5758 8815
Meeting ID: 817 5493 1410
Barnet UNISON has submitted the following report which sets out our list of demands for full Trade Union engagement in the transition from Lockdown.
“It is really important at this time that workers trust that their employer ensures the workplace is safe. COVID 19 has brought risks to our members’ lives in a way many of our members have never faced before. Therefore, it is important not just to say the workplace is safe, BUT to demonstrate that is safe by being transparent and open and ensuring risk assessments for every work place are easily available for the workforce to read. On Tuesday 5 May 2020, we submitted our report to Barnet Council Chief Executive as the first step to work to ensure all our members are safe at work. We will report back on the negotiations over the coming days and weeks.” (John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON)
Some of our proposals set out in the report are:
1. The Council to inform and consult with the Trade Unions in a full and timely manner on the transition from Lockdown. By engaging with the Trade Unions the Council can receive our support in the process, and help build workforce support for changed ways of working such as working from home, social distancing measures and deployment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
2. The Council to ensure that protective measures are in place for workers most vulnerable to Covid-19, pregnant women, new mothers and employees sharing households with people requiring shielding.
3. Covid-19 Risk Assessments to be in place relating to specific worksites and work tasks. The Council should consult and obtain agreement with the Trade Unions on these Risk Assessments. No worksites or tasks to be engaged until such Risk Assessments are in place following agreement with the Trade Unions. Risk Assessments to be accessible to all Council employees.
4. Increased stringency and frequency of cleaning of workplaces and equipment during the transition from Lockdown.
5. Social distancing to be in place at work sites, with clear guidance given to workers. Buildings should not be open to the public without strict and enforceable social distancing measures in place, following consultation and agreement with the Trade Unions.
6. To reduce the risk of infection the Council should consider and implement changes to the layout of workplaces, adjusting working patterns, alternating sections of the workforce on sites, and staggering travelling times. The Trade Unions to be consulted with on any such changes.
7. In line with Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 the Council will not submit any worker refusing to work in an unsafe workplace to Disciplinary or other punitive measures. It recognises workers have the right to withdraw from and refuse to return to an unsafe workplace, and that they have legal protection from dismissal, disciplinary or any other detriment for raising a health and safety issue.
8. PPE must be provided where necessary, and no-one should be asked to re-use PPE inappropriately.
9. Employees to receive instruction on the safe use, maintenance and cleaning of PPE as necessary.
10. Equalities Impact Assessments to be in place for the transition from Lockdown. Across the UK Black and Ethnic Minority workers have suffered disproportionate harm from the impact of the virus. The Council must seek to prevent this disproportionate impact and comply with its public sector equality duty.
11. The Council to inform workers about the availability and criteria of Covid-19 testing and to support workers in obtaining such testing when criteria are met.
Click on link below to read the UNISON report.
1. The guidance restates the DfE‟s blanket line that scientific evidence “indicates” that school staff do not need PPE – what exactly is the scientific evidence which the DfE referring to? Will they publish this scientific evidence in full?
2. Risk assessments should be carried out for staff as well as for pupils. Local unions and health and safety representatives can add help and expertise to this process and should be fully involved.
3. The onus of the guidance unreasonably places pressure and the risk onto members of staff.
4. It will be impossible to provide the care that some children and young people need without close hands-on contact. Risk assessments need to be carried out and the appropriate PPE supplied in these circumstances.
5. The guidance states PPE is only needed in residential care if pupils develop symptoms. No account is taken of the hazards faced by school staff in terms of spitting, scratching or biting, exposure to other bodily fluids or when performing clinical procedures.
6. There is no reference to the safe disposal of waste or PPE including masks and gloves.
7. The guidance rightly highlights the paramount necessity of strict hygiene, but does not mention soap or the provision of hand sanitiser. UNISON members have raised concerns about lack of soap and having to bring their own sanitiser to work. UNISON has already raised concerns with the DfE over previous guidance suggesting some cleaning items may be rationed.
8. There is no recognition of the complexity of the issues being faced by schools with vulnerable young people – for instance what about the risk of children attending who live in crowded accommodation either in a hostel, B&B or where a large family are sharing?
9. The guidance recognises that classes should be kept to small sizes but there is no definition of what a small size is. What happens if there is an outbreak and it leads to staff absences? For pupils with SEND there may be a one to one ratio. It is common practice in SEND settings to have 8-10 students to a ratio of 5 staff.
10. The guidance recommends that soft or cuddly toys are not to be shared by students – how is this to be managed in a SEND or early years environment?
11. Social distancing is impossible to fully maintain in schools. There is no reference to the built environments that schools work in. Some schools are small with narrow corridors and passage ways.
12. Any redeployment of staff across special schools will be unsettling for the pupils who are familiar with individual teachers/teaching assistants/ learning support assistants. It could also add to the risk of spreading the virus.
Recommendation UNISON recommends that the Government’s advice is urgently revised to take full account of the needs of pupils and staff, including realistic expectations of what is achievable. It should also take into account the duty of care that the DfE and schools have to their pupils, staff and the communities in which they operate. Ofsted have identified sufficient risk to issue their inspectors with PPE in order to safely undertake emergency inspections. PPE is vital for staff who are working on the front line – without the undertaking of risk assessments for staff and the appropriate provision of PPE then some schools could be unsafe for staff, pupils and the wider community.
To read full statement click on link below
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Barnet UNISON Branch ZOOM meeting “COVID19: Your Health and Safety Rights at Work”
After five weeks of lockdown and ongoing media speculation about when lockdown will end Barnet UNISON has secured Simon Hester former Health and Safety Executive Inspector as our Guest Speaker for our first ZOOM Branch Meeting on Wednesday 6 May at 6pm.
To join the Barnet UNISON Zoom meeting click on the link below.
Meeting ID: 880 6399 1632
I hope that you are well and managing to cope under these extraordinary circumstances we all find ourselves in.
We, the Trade Union Leads, are writing to all Heads in response to the ongoing speculation as to when schools may be asked to open up again especially as a vaccine or cure is not likely to available in this calendar year and, therefore, it is likely that we will need to continue social distancing.
Our concerns are both for the children and the staff.
We want to ensure the schools are as safe as possible in terms of dealing with COVID 19.
Our members are very worried about schools re-opening before it is safe. They have noted that the provision of PPE for NHS workers and Care workers has been a worrying and ongoing issue, being played out on national media on a daily basis. Whilst assurances have been made that supplies of PPE for the staff will be delivered day after day by senior members of the Government it is clear for all to see that this has not happened and it continues to be a serious issue for staff. Furthermore our members have watched with horror when news broke last week that PPE supplies were running out and that sadly Public Health England were revising their guidance down in response to supply rather than the level of risk to the workforce and patients.
It is with this back drop that we want to ensure that when schools open, the school is able to assure staff and parents that the workplace will be a safe place for all.
To this end we are asking all schools what measures they currently have in place in terms of the following:
Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries or believe we may be able to support your school and staff during this national emergency.
Barnet Trade Unions”
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