Unite CEC branch started raising concerns over Health & Safety (H&S) communications in Edinburgh schools in late July 2020, prior to the schools’ re-opening. These concerns centred around the operations, composition and communications regarding the schools’ H&S groups. Members’ uncertainties indicated a lack of involvement from all staff groups (both FM and C&F) working in schools.
A survey of Unite members in Edinburgh schools was initiated at the end of October 2020, following persistent inadequacy of response from Communities & Families (whose domain the H&S groups sits in). The resultant report revealed that far too many staff (particularly FM) were unaware of the existence of their school’s H&S group and had had no H&S communications.
The report was shared with senior C&F and FM staff who promised to rectify the situation and make all staff welcome to each school’s H&S group where possible. Our message now to all school workers (FM and C&F) is to inquire from Head Teacher or Business Manager how you can become involved in your school’s Health & Safety group.
The local authority newsletter is focusing on jobs across local authorities to show how valuable our public sector workers are and the hard work they put in under difficult conditions and often low pay.
Today, Unite would like you to meet Iona (not real name).
Iona works full-time in the Highlands and Islands and is paid £378 per week – a mere 60% of the UK’s average wage (£31,830).
Sign our petition to ensure school support workers have their voices heard on health and safety
We recently surveyed school support workers to gain insight into how these important groups of workers feel about their return to work. It is fair to say that the results highlight a number of concerns which must be addressed.
Without the work of school support workers—such as janitors, cleaners and pupils support assistants—schools would not be operational. So why do these groups of workers continue to be excluded when decisions are made around health and safety at work and information is distributed?
Following the Scottish Government’s guidance, schools are due to return next week. Staff and pupils—and their families and friends—will be anxious that the return has been rushed without time for all health and safety measures to be put in place.
Staff and pupils—and their friends and families—should not be put at risk by the impact of employers’ carelessness as they rush to reopen schools.