UNISON Northern Ireland


Today (20th August), UNISON is continuing to raise serious concerns with the Education Authority (EA) in relation to the measures that are required to protect our members health and safety as schools begin to reopen. UNISON Regional Organiser Marianne Buick said:

‘‘We are now only 5 days away from large numbers of children returning to school, but far too many questions in relation to the health and safety of our members remain unanswered, and measures promised to mitigate risks are not yet in place.

In schools transport the EA has yet to fit protective Perspex screens for drivers or install hand sanitiser, despite agreeing to Trade Unions request that they do so. It is unacceptable that the EA has yet to properly implement an agreed action such as this to protect the health and safety of our members, particularly given that such measures are being used on public transport. It is becoming increasingly clear that these works will not be completed in time for next week.

The EA is under legal duties to protect the health and safety of our members not only in transport, but also across cleaning, catering and other major support services without which schools cannot reopen. Our members have a legal right not to work in an environment where there are serious dangers to their health and safety. If the EA fails to step up to the mark and do the right things to protect our members, we will provide advice and support them if they choose to exercise their rights.

Alongside the other Education Support Services unions, we have demanded an urgent meeting and will need significant assurances that the health and safety of our members will be safeguarded. Schools must reopen in a safe and responsible manner, not in a way that puts our members at risk.

UNISON is putting the EA on notice that our members must not be put at risk of harm as schools reopen.’’