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Labour must back National Education Union on Schools Re-opening : Letter to Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner & the Shadow Education Team

“Parents, children, teaching assistants, teachers, caretakers, lunchtime assistants, & office staff are looking to us, the Labour Party, to speak up for them.”

By Sam Browse, Labour Assembly Against Austerity

Today, figures from across the labour movement have written to Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and the Shadow Education team urging them to support the National Education Union’s opposition to the planned re-opening of schools on Monday 4th January.

The signatories slam the Government’s failure to resource proper physical distancing in schools and say that ‘to say they are safe environments is simply not true.’

They continue: ‘Parents, children, teaching assistants, teachers, caretakers, lunchtime assistants, and office staff are looking to us, the Labour Party, to speak up for them, and to hold this Government to account and to press them to do the right thing. We support the position of the National Education Union. We want you to do the same’.

Their message comes as the infection rate soars to the highest since March, as incidents of covid-19 reach record highs – the last 4 days have seen in excess of 200,000 new cases and over 3000 deaths – and as the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has recommended school closures. 

Labour must stand with the education unions and hold the government to account on its failure to follow the scientific advice on schools reopening. Read the full letter below.     

Dear Kate Green, Wes Streeting, Keir Starmer & Angela Rayner,

The Labour Party was founded and exists to represent working people. Millions of people are now living under Tier 3 or 4 restrictions, in areas where coronavirus cases are either high or very high. We understand that the new strain which has been discovered may be more easily transmissible, but we still do not understand enough about the health impact on different age groups.

From the start of this crisis, the Government have failed to provide schools with the adequate resources to enable proper physical distancing, so to say they are safe environments is simply not true. It is now widely accepted that the virus is readily transmitted from children to adults. In the absence of mass testing it is impossible to know those children who are healthy from those who are asymptomatic carriers. Parents, children, teaching assistants, teachers, caretakers, lunchtime assistants, and office staff are looking to us, the Labour Party, to speak up for them, and to hold this Government to account and to press them to do the right thing. We support the position of the National Education Union. We want you to do the same. 

Schools should not re-open on the 4th January save for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. This is about the lives and safety of working people, children and the safety of our communities. Nothing should ever come before that. Do the right thing. 

Yours Sincerely,

Laura Pidcock (Labour NEC)

Nadia Jama (Labour NEC) 

Mish Rahman (Labour NEC)

Gemma Bolton (Labour NEC)

Yasmine Dar (Labour NEC)

Ellen Morrison (Labour NEC)

Howard Beckett (Labour NEC) 

Ian Murray (Labour NEC) 

Andi Fox (Labour NEC)

Len McCluskey (General Secretary, Unite the Union) 

Dave Ward (General Secretary, CWU)

Matt Wrack (General Secretary, FBU) 

Manuel Cortes (General Secretary, TSSA)

Sarah Woolley (General Secretary, BFAWU)

Andy Kerr (Deputy General Secretary, CWU)

Mick Whelan (General Secretary, ASLEF)

Jamie Driscoll (Mayor, North of Tyne)

Ian Byrne (MP for West Derby)

Jon Trickett (MP for Hemsworth)

Ian Mearns (MP for Gateshead) 

Ian Lavery (MP for Wansbeck)

Richard Burgon (MP for Leeds East)

Kate Osborne (MP for Jarrow)

Claudia Webbe (MP for Leicester East)

Bell Ribeiro Addy (MP for Streatham)

Grahame Morris (MP for Easington)

John McDonnell (MP for Hayes & Harlington)

Dawn Butler (MP for Brent Central)

Zarah Sultana (MP for Coventry South)

Jeremy Corbyn (MP for Islington North)

Rebecca Long Bailey (MP for Salford & Eccles)

Apsana Begum (MP for Poplar and Limehouse)

Nadia Whittome (MP for Nottingham East)

Mary Kelly Foy (MP for City of Durham)

Lloyd Russell Moyle (MP for Brighton Kemptown)

Tahir Ali (MP for Birmingham Hall Green)

Paula Barker (MP for Wavertree)

Rachel Hopkins (MP for Luton South)

Olivia Blake (MP for Sheffield Hallam)

Kim Johnson (MP Liverpool Riverside)

Nav Mishra (MP Stockport)

John Hendy (House of Lords)

Christine Blower (House of Lords)

Katy Clark (House of Lords)

Councillor Laura Smith 

Councillor Liam Lavery

Ronan Burtenshaw (Editor, Tribune)

Parents Against Unsafe Schools

Red Labour 

Don’t Leave, Organise (DLO)

Labour Representation Committee (LRC)

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL)

Momentum

Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD)

Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors

Labour Assembly Against Austerity

Labour Outlook

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