Swindon primary rep Fran King describes how acting collectively led to a successful safety campaign.
The National Education Union coronavirus response includes prioritising safety of our members, amending assessment, ensuring fair conditions and reward for all education workers and making sure no child is left behind.
Protecting those at risk
From 3 December, DfE advice means that those that are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) may be asked to stop working from home and return to the workplace. We oppose this move and are supporting all CEV members that wish to continue working from home.
We have also written to every local authority and asked our members to identify as CEV.
Steps you can take
- Speak to your headteacher about ensuring that all CEV members continue to work from home.
- Speak to members, tell them the outcome of what your headteacher says. This issue affects all members who at any time could become CEV.
- Let us know if this has been resolved or if it needs escalating, we will email you shortly.
Guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable members, their reps and district/branch secretaries
Covid-19: Why clinically extremely vulnerable staff must be allowed to work from home
Letter to heads support clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) colleagues by agreeing that they should work at home for the remainder of this term.
Letter from NEU to all Public Health Directors
NEU Escalation Guidance:
During this difficult time, everyone is working hard to ensure the working and learning environment is as safe as it possibly can be.
We know that in some schools and colleges there are serious safety and workload concerns. These may include the treatment of individuals or small groups of members, agreed risk assessments not being followed or other issues that have arisen from the implementation of risk assessments.
It is possible to challenge those decisions and make your workplace safer. By uniting as a group, you create a powerful voice. By acting collectively, you can protect those most at risk and ensure that your workplace is a healthy and safe place to teach and learn.
Step 1: You have discussed your concerns as members and are planning an NEU meeting
Have you spoken to your members about how they feel about safety and workload since the full re-opening of school? To tackle issues in school, it is really important for members to meet (online or socially distanced) and work together to agree their key concerns and how they can be resolved.
Step 2: Your union group is going to meet with head and/or SLT to raise concerns
Arrange a meeting with the head. If there are other union groups and reps in your workplace, talk to them and arrange a meeting together. Explain your members concerns and the resolution your members determined. It is important that you don’t agree to any partial or alternative resolution that the head may offer before you have spoken to members again.
Step 3: Your concerns haven’t been dealt with by leadership and you want to escalate further
If your head will not engage constructively, or if it is not possible to reach agreement, it is important to go back to members and update them on the key areas of disagreement. If members continue to have serious safety concerns, you will need to agree collectively to escalate.
Escalation can take many forms. We can advise on options but you will know how best to create leverage and move your head/SLT to a reasonable position. You will want to support your students and communities but this should not be at the cost of your health and safety. We will support you to resolve your concerns, working together to ensure the safety of all.
Initial escalation actions could include:
- Members sign a letter or petition to the head teacher or chair of governors to highlight the issues and strength of feeling.
- The head could be invited to a meeting of all members, to hear first-hand how strongly members (and other staff) feel about the outstanding issues.
Step 4: Your union group wants further support
Contact your branch secretary and/or regional office if your head still refuses to move to a more reasonable position. Your branch secretary will speak to you about the different ways in which you can take matters further.
In some circumstances, it may be possible to use section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996; for other issues, it may be necessary to move to an indicative or formal ballot for industrial action. The branch secretary and/or regional office will offer all the support that you and your members need.
Winning at work
Do you have story about winning at your workplace? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Wirral primary rep Andy Heywood describes his successful safety campaign.
Oldham rep Noo Khadem describes her successful safety campaign.
Telford Special school rep Donna Macdonald describes her successful organising campaign.
Arrange a digital members meeting
Convene a digital members meeting as soon as possible and if your members’ collective view is that working on the school site to present a serious and and imminent danger to yourself and others (pupils, parents, carers, their families and the wider community) for example because you believe the risk assessment is deficient or because our checklist reveals problems or because vulnerable staff or staff who live with vulnerable people are being required to attend school, then you should:
We have produced this short guide to help you deliver a digital members meeting , to ensure members views are collectively represented in discussion with your leadership teams.
Find your local branch
We are asking your local branch and district officers to support you and ensure members are represented during this period.
Rep recruitment drive
Many members are already stepping up to become NEU reps and to become part of rep teams to help during the COVID-19 crisis.
If there is a member who wants to be a rep with you, we will encourage them to speak with you first. Members can indicate they want to get involved using our form here.