UNISON Northern Ireland


UNISON represents over 8000 education workers, most them in the frontline of service delivery for our school children.

We have been engaged in continuous joint union discussions with the Department and Education Bodies on a pilot plan for the safe return of children and workers alike. That plan has now been set aside for what appear to be political rather than public health reasons.

Like everyone else we want to see our schools re-open but our members and our school children cannot be put at risk.

We have repeatedly called for the science to be prioritised over the politics. That is the only safe way to navigate this pandemic.

Does the Minister or the NI Executive seriously believe that keeping some bars closed and mandatory masks in shops is sufficient to protect school children and education workers alike?

The latest Ministerial announcement is causing anxiety for parents, pupils and education staff.

Picture the bus escort who must socially distance and wear a mask on public transport to get to work but then boards a packed school bus were masks are not required.

Picture the classroom assistant, the cleaner, the school nurse or the school meals worker who cannot do the job by socially distancing. What PPE do they use? What guidance do they follow?

Designating a classroom full of children as a ‘bubble’ is no protection after school .

There are now too many questions. We must have the answers now.