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An open letter to the Labour leadership on schools

TRADE union leaders, MPs and members of Labour’s national executive committee have called on the Labour leadership to support the National Education Union’s call for schools not to open from Monday except for vulnerable children and children of key workers.

The NEU has advised its members not to enter schools which open as normal on health and safety grounds and is calling on the government to shift schooling online until schools are safe.

Despite record infection rates, the Labour leadership has so far refused to support trade union calls for learning to be shifted online, attacking the government’s “chaotic” policy but declining to propose an alternative.

The letter, below, is addressed to shadow education secretary Kate Green, shadow schools minister Wes Streeting and Labour’s leader and deputy leader Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner.

It is signed by nine Labour NEC members, six trade union general secretaries and a deputy general secretary and more than 20 MPs, as well as a range of leading figures in local government, lords and campaigns.

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)
Ronan Burtenshaw (Editor, Tribune)
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)
John Hendy (House of Lords)
Christine Blower (House of Lords)
Katy Clark (House of Lords)
Councillor Laura Smith 
Councillor Liam Lavery
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

Parents Against Unsafe Schools

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