Members of the National Education Union (NEU) at Kingsway Primary School in Wallasey are taking the first of six planned days of strike action on Thursday 10 December over Covid-related health and safety measures, equal treatment, and fairer management practices that promote the wellbeing of staff and pupils.
The strike action comes after the NEU served a statutory notice on 17 November, indicating members would be withdrawing their labour, while the school and Local Authority have failed to engage in any dialogue with the NEU about the situation.
Bora Oktas, Regional Officer of the NEU, said, “Strike action is always the last resort for our members. However, this strike action is the direct result of the employer’s negligence. Our members have always been ignored when they have called for action to protect the most vulnerable staff and pupils in the school. Management has refused to look at our proposals and joint-union checklist, including proper risk assessment for pupils and staff.
“Our members have been working incredibly hard to keep the school open and running with little support or resources from the employer. The situation has reached a crisis point and Management cannot let this go on any longer.
“We have made every effort to work with the employer to try to resolve this dispute and we regret any disruption to pupils or parents, but members cannot stand by while safety of staff and pupils are being put at risk.”
Ian Harris, Wirral NEU Branch Secretary, said, “The lack of action by the school and Local Authority only serves to underpin the very reason our members felt they needed to escalate their concerns and were left with no option but to use industrial action. It is disappointing that the school and Local Authority feel it is acceptable to ignore the concerns of our members. The issues at the school have been ongoing since May 2020 and the Union has provided documentation to highlight the concerns and our members have shown a willingness to resolve the issues.
“Our members should not be experiencing the distress and anxiety of working in an environment where a ‘culture of fear’ prevents them from asking for even the most basic measures for a safe environment for staff and pupils. We remain committed to further negotiations, but the employer must commit to sitting down at the negotiation table. They have not done this so far, and, more worryingly, they have not even explained why they do not want to talk to us.”
Peter Middleman, Regional Secretary of the NEU, stated, “We urge the employer to work with us to find a solution to the issues at Kingsway which can still be resolved if the employer takes appropriate account of the views of staff in regard to health and safety concerns that impact the provision of quality education for all pupils at the school. Our members have had to go down the industrial action route because it is the routine ignoring of member concerns and lack of mechanism to have them formally onsidered that is the root of the dispute. The COVID issues have just emphasised the need for more workplace democracy in this school.”
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