Schools Staff Return Poses More Questions Than Answers, Prompts Safety And Equality Fears
As thousands more schools staff across Scotland return to work today (Monday 8 June) GMB has warned government ministers the next scandal of the coronavirus crisis could unravel amid serious concerns over safe working, equality and personal wellbeing.
Cleaners, caterers and support staff across all thirty-two local authorities will ramp-up preparations for the Scottish Government’s phased return of pupils from Tuesday 11 August, but GMB has warned the return to work guidance, “The Strategic Framework for Re-Opening of Schools”, poses more questions than answers, with councils adopting their own approaches within the guidance.
The union has also expressed concerns about the failure of some councils to provide risk assessments on safe working in each school setting, the lack of childcare guidance and provision for workers with dependents, and the ability of low paid staff to travel to and between work safely, particularly cleaners on multiple contracts of employment.
GMB Scotland Organiser Helen Meldrum said:
“We are told time and again the priority is safety but the return to work guidance for thousands of school cleaning staff simply doesn’t pass muster, it poses more questions than answers.
“It’s negligent for councils to bring staff back but not provide something as basic as a risk assessment for the work they are being asked to undertake and it’s grossly unfair if employers are failing to provide any guidance and support for staff who will require childcare to work.
“And in the case of cleaners, many are employed on multiple contracts, a legacy of cuts, arm’s length management organisations and PFI contractors, they could be deployed across various schools on any given day - we should be consolidating these contracts to ensure safety and value.
“The process isn’t fit for purpose, it’s potentially discriminatory and definitely not safe. Ministers must have their heads in the clouds if they think they can leave this alone to councils. They need to get a grip and show some leadership before next scandal of the coronavirus crisis unravels.”
Contact: GMB Scotland Communications on 07976 447077