Health and Safety News School support staff

Support staff unions must have equal access to shaping the way forward on schools and early years re-openings

School support staffThe branch has again taken up the worries of our school support staff members about the planning for schools to reopen in August and Early Years provision over the Summer. A meeting has finally been arranged for Tuesday 2nd June.

Meantime, Aberdeenshire’s education service has confirmed to the branch that “no school staff should go into schools not being used as a Hub (for preparation) before the buildings have been deemed safe, and risk assessments have been completed.”

Head Teachers were informed of this position on Friday following further representations from the branch, and the service will write with more information early next week.

Inez Kirk
Inez Kirk

Branch secretary, Inez Kirk said, “I have again been inundated by calls from members saying that head teachers have asked them to fill in forms about their return to work on 8th June.

“Members in early years have been told that they will be working over the summer break and delivering the full hours.

“Other members have been told they must work during the summer break to make up their hours they haven’t done during term time (term time workers) even though they have been supporting young people and learning from home when not in the hubs.

“Others have been told they will have to clean the building. And admin members have been told they will continue to sit three in a very small office. These are only some of the issues raised by our members and without proper discussion with the unions we are unable to support our members.”

Inez has written to senior management condemning erratic communication on issues that have never been discussed with the unions, despite a pledge to do so from the Director of Education and Children’s Services last week.

Inez added, “The meeting next week is a start but I feel it is quite late to get into specifics when a consultation process has to be done before the schools break and many of our members are off due to term time working, and not paid during that period. I had hoped with my emails last week we would be further along than we currently are.”

She called again for UNISON to be included in any communication going out to our members.

“Remember the return to school in August is a week early for the majority of our members and so in order to plan for the return there needs to be consultation on how the council plan to do that so that we can consult our members BEFORE any decisions are made and plans put into action.

“As yet I have not even seen the risk assessments for the hubs and again our members are concerned because they don’t have PPE, they are told to keep two metres distant. This is ok in some circumstances but not for all young people. So risk assessments are vital for the return to school and have to involve the workers themselves to feed in the actual duties they have to carry out.

“Our diaries are all busy but I understand that teachers are in many discussions over the return to school. All I ask is that the local government trade unions have equal access to shaping the way forward on the issues that affect our members and have the ability to consult our members on those plans.”

Laurence Findlay has again confirmed to the branch that he has informed them that there are a number of matters to be discussed/negotiated with our Trade Union colleagues. He has cautioned them not to place expectations on staff until we as a service have provided the appropriate advice and guidance.

Inez has drawn his attention to the expectations we have with regards to the return to schools following the national discussions which have been agreed at COSLA level. These relate to the return prior to the summer break and further expectations around our involvement on the return in August. Read more below.

Great deal more work needs done before children can return to childcare and schools says UNISON