By Hazel P, IWW Women’s Officer
Yesterday (Sunday 3 January 2021), the National Education Union (NEU) held an online campaigning meeting which was attended by 100,000 people. Another 400,000 people dropped in and out of the online meeting, making it the largest meeting organised by a trade union for some time.
The meeting was called to consider the start of the new school term with many of the largest trade unions in Britain, such as the NEU and UNISON suggesting that it was unsafe for them to reopen considering the threat of infection from the current wave of Covid19. The NEU in particular has advised members that it is unsafe to reopen schools at this time, except for the children of key workers, and that arrangements should be made for remote learning instead. The NEU have provided template letters for members to contact headteachers to notify them of their absence. See here for more information https://neu.org.uk/january-advice.
Another factor for concerning teachers in the current environment is the extra pressure of teaching blended learning (both face to face and online teaching) in schools. This has created extra pressure on teachers and could be addressed partly through implementing ‘hazard’ pay across schools for all staff. Safety at work is of paramount importance to the IWW and as three quarters of teachers are women, the IWW Women and Non-Binary Committee send a message of solidarity to those struggling with precarious health and safety conditions in the workplace. We believe that teachers and school support staff have been thrown in at the deep end and that schools should remain closed until virus levels have subsided adequately. We encourage everyone to sign this petition created by the NEU https://actionnetwork.org/forms/make-schools-safe-and-protect-communities.