Monday, 22 September 2008

Councils put schoolchildren at risk in desperate attempt to undermine staff strike

News release - Immediate Monday 22 September

UNISON, Scotland's largest council staff union, today said that they have evidence that some Scottish councils are risking children's safety by trying to open schools when key members of staff are on strike on Wednesday.

Councils such as East Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross are preparing to open schools that were closed last month, by suggesting that untrained staff can cover fire safety and health and safety, that no lunches will be provided - even if the children get free school lunches, that pupils as young as five will be drafted in to keep schools clean, and that they propose to abandon procedures to highlight whether pupils have arrived at school, or to enable parents to contact the school.

Tracey Dalling, UNISON's Regional Organiser for local government said "Our branches have been getting reports that councils are preparing to cut safety corners and use non-striking teaching staff, and even the pupils themselves to try to cover vital work provided by cleaners, janitors and school admin staff. A number of councils who closed schools as a safety measure during the strike are proposing to try to open them this time - although the same staff will be on strike.

"It is extremely worrying that some councils seem to be prepared to risk our kids' safety in order to try and claim some kind of one-upmanship over their striking staff. We have asked all our local government branches to ask for the risk assessments for the individual schools that they propose to open. Strangely enough we haven't received too many, indeed we do know that some councils have not even completed them but are still saying that schools will be open!"

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