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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 October 2020
Action on Covid transmission in schools now
Martin Powell-Davies, Lancashire National Education Union (personal capacity)
At last, some opposition politicians are starting to speak out clearly about the woeful failure of the Tory government to control the spread of the virus. But words alone can be ignored.
So now it's time for the National Education Union (NEU) to back up words with action and call strike ballots in the worst-affected areas.
The publicity around the union's call for a two-week 'circuit-breaker' over half-term, including schools, has already helped to break the silence over how our packed classrooms are operating, as one of the key vectors driving the 'Covid second wave' of rising infections and deaths.
Public Health England's own data now confirms that test positivity rates are rising sharply, and most of all among teenagers and young adults. Some of the highest incidences of Covid outbreaks are being recorded in schools. These are recorded across all sectors - nursery, primary, special and secondary.
The virus is being carried into schools, transmitted between pupils and staff, then carried back out into communities again. That's inevitable when schools are operating with full classes without any possibility of adequate social distancing, with 30 or more children and adults sharing the same, often poorly ventilated, classroom space. The risks are greatest in tier two and three areas with the highest infection rate, especially for staff at risk who are not being allowed to work at home.
Yet the government continues to ignore reality. Lancashire councillors reported that when they spoke up in negotiations about transmission in schools and workplaces being the real problem, they were told by government officials that these were 'off-limits'.
So Lancashire is now in tier three, without adequate financial support for workers affected, but also with school safety continuing to be ignored. For the sake of staff and for the safety of our communities too, it's high time to take the action needed to make sure that ministers cannot ignore us any longer.
That's why emergency NEU members' meetings have been called in the first tier three areas of Lancashire and Liverpool. Local officers agree that escalation to a higher tier must be met with an escalation in the union's strategy. With infection rates on the rise, we must not delay.
Socialist Party in Education is calling for:
- Emergency NEU meetings to be called in tier two and three areas
- Local and national leadership to put the case for urgent action and to put full resources into winning area-wide strike ballots
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In The Socialist 21 October 2020:
Health before profit - Work or full pay
Wales 'firebreak' lockdown fails to protect workers
Liverpool lockdown: suspicion and anger
Newcastle lockdown: stress and breakdowns
Leicester lockdown: disillusionment and anger
Why the Socialist Party is backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary
Nigeria protests: 'This movement needs to fight the whole rotten capitalist system'
Horrific murder in Paris: fight intolerance and racism!
South Africa: Mass day of action for permanent jobs and a living wage
Tories reduce winter homeless funding: reverse the cuts,use the empty homes!
World capitalism's terrified strategists abandon austerity - for now
Test and Trace U-turn on stopping local case reporting
Oxbridge gets private Covid tests: pool resources to test us all!
Millennials disillusioned with 'democracy'
Under the microscope
RMT: Programme to fight redundancies and cuts
Action on Covid transmission in schools now
FCC dismiss Unison activist Tony Smith
Optare workers strike over pay broken 'promise'
Solidarity with Deliveroo Couriers in York
Students: Give us our money back
Fight for your future at the online rally
Southampton: Coxford community condemns racist attack
Socialism 2020: Will you help our finance appeal?
Selling the Socialist: increase in NHS anger
Truth about Zane: Cover-up Tories crack
Kent: Chaotic privatised asylum process
Teignmouth hospital closure threat ... again!
Books that inspired me: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Beware the billionaires bearing gifts
Disabled students let down by "rotten education system"
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