Coronavirus: teachers in Edinburgh consent to help a school safety dispute

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In the face of the continuing danger of Covid-19, Edinburgh teachers voted unanimously to declare a formal conflict with their employer over its inability to provide a secure working atmosphere for workers.

This is the fourth local union to announce a health and safety dispute, with similar ballots in Argyll and Bute and Midlothian still available.

91 percent of teachers backed the switch to industrial action in the Edinburgh referendum, with a 65 percent turnout. The local union will now begin negotiations with the Council of the City of Edinburgh to discuss the health and safety issues of members urgently.

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Alison Murphy, secretary of the EIS Local Association, said, “This is a clear message from members in Edinburgh that more needs to be done to support them. Since the start of the pandemic, teachers – and all school staff – have worked incredibly hard to support the students in their care and often their families. While there have been many fine words of praise from politicians, the reality is that the actions have fallen far short of the rhetoric.”

Teachers feel demoralized, undervalued, under relentless fire from some oppressed groups, and at real risk of working in schools where there is clearly no facilitation that the rest of society takes for granted. Representatives of Edinburgh said loud and clear that this should not continue. Ms. Murphy added,

“We want the same consideration and protection as other key workers.”

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“In the coming weeks, the Edinburgh EIS board will be talking to the City of Edinburgh Council about what steps it can take to ensure our schools are safe places to work, that staff feel valued and that our health, safety and wellbeing are supported so we can give our pupils the education they deserve.” she said.

A council spokesperson said, “We are aware of the EIS Edinburgh branch’s statement on a formal dispute.”

“The health and safety of all our staff and pupils is a top priority. We will continue our discussions with EIS, our staff and other unions to make our schools as safe as possible in these difficult times.”

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