No going back until it’s safe!

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR ALL UNISON MEMBERS RE REOPENING OF SCHOOLS ON 1 JUNE

UNISON is not in agreement with reopening schools on 1st June and we urge our members not to agree to doing so.

Dear friends

You will no doubt have heard the government announcement on Sunday that restrictions on schools are to be relaxed on 1st June for far wider re-opening. This announcement was made without consultation with trade unions nationally and without any of the meaningful guidance or clarity it deserved. This has caused a great deal of concern and worry to our members, parents and school heads.

This branch firmly believes that this government announcement, particularly with regards to re-introducing the youngest pupils who are least likely to be able to adhere to social distancing without adequate guidance, is thoroughly reckless and presents an unacceptable level of risk to pupils, members, their families and to the wider country.

Nationally UNISON and other trade unions are in dispute with the government announcement. UNISON along with other unions within education released a joint statement regarding the lifting of current restrictions which you can find in its entirety here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/education-unions-statement-safe-reopening-schools

Locally, having met with BHCC on Wednesday afternoon (13th May) it was agreed that any lifting of current restrictions should be made on the basis of safety of pupils and staff rather than that of an arbitrary date. Council officers as well as councillors have made a firm commitment to ensuring that safety comes first and details of how and when this is likely to be achieved been sent out to all school heads.

What this means is that whilst we will continue to engage with the local authority and schools with regards to how the lifting of school restrictions might be safely achieved, we will not be engaging with regards to meeting any arbitrary date such as June 1st at this stage as we do not believe it is yet safe to do so. The current schools arrangement must remain in place until such a time as it is demonstrably safe to do otherwise.

This branch expects all educational providers across the city to honour and stand by the commitment to safety that is being championed by BHCC, as any irresponsible re-opening of other schools or colleges places the entire city at risk.

In the event that you are currently being pressured to return to re-opening your school on 1st June and/or being rota’d as such we would advise you to provide the following response in writing:

“Trade unions including my own are in dispute with the government guidance that schools are to re-open on 1stJune. Whilst I and my union are willing to discuss and be consulted upon how the school will be able to reopen in the future, I have been instructed by my union that it is not currently safe to do so and that I am not to engage with regards to returning on 1st June at this stage. We expect all education providers to follow BHCC who have provided guidance and understand the firm joint union position. This is a national dispute we expect all employers to treat it as such.

If you have any further questions or require any further information please feel free to contact the branch

Sue.beatty@brighton-hove.gov.uk
matt.webb@brighton-hove.gov.uk
susan.bowes@brighton-hove.gov.uk

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