Tories in crisis – solidarity with education workers – no return to unsafe schools
Even before the Dominic Cummings scandal, the Tories were in trouble. Their four nations strategy had collapsed, local councils were refusing to reopen schools on 1 June, and they were plummeting in the polls.
But now, after it was revealed that Boris Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cumming drove over 200 miles when he had coronavirus symptoms to stay with family and allegedly had a day out in a picturesque market town the Tories face growing anger and bitterness. It is clear there is one rule for us and another if you are rich or powerful.
Millions of people took difficult decisions not to see their loved ones during lock down, some people missed a chance for a last goodbye or funerals. Now Boris Johnson says that Cummings “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity. Even the Daily Mail’s headline today asks “What planet are they on?”
While Boris Johnson has staked his political reputation on defending Cummings a number of Tory MPs have called for him to go while members of the government’s scientific advisory committee have called for him to resign too. It shows the splits and tensions that exist within the Tory Party and the wider ruling class.
That’s why 1 June is such a crucial date in the battle against the Tories handling of the crisis and their willingness to put working class lives on the line.
Schools have become a flashpoint in the argument about lifting the lockdown. The decision to get Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 back in is both ideological and economic. The sight of children returning to school helps give the impression that we are going back to normal while having younger children being cared for means their parents can go back to work and help restart the economy. This is what the Tories are under pressure to do from big business.
But the scale of opposition has been massive. The NEU is clear there should be no going back unless its Five Tests are met. Last week over 20,000 NEU members joined a zoom call to discuss the issue, while 100s of education workers and parents have attended local meetings. Out of 99 councils surveyed for the BBC, 20 said they were not going to follow the government line to reopen.
But there are lots of arguments. There are some 17,000 primary schools being asked to reopen and in each debates and discussion is happening. We have to make sure that the maximum support and solidarity is being offered to those working in schools to boost confidence not to return to unsafe conditions.
Over the last week we have seen a wave of parents meetings – 150 in Hackney, 200 in Coventry, 580 in Redbridge, and reports of a meeting of 3,000 on the Wirral in Merseyside! We need to clearly argue for a boycott at these meetings.
NEU: comrades must keep putting the case that we should refuse to return, and if you are in a minority currently win the majority, we need to clearly and firmly continue to argue for this position this week. Redbridge held another 300 strong union meeting last Friday, and reps from half a dozen primaries were able to report how they had forced their heads to say they wouldn’t open.
Unison in local government has large numbers of school staff – Barnet Unison and NEU held a joint union meeting last week with Kevin Courtney of the NEU and Unison’s head of education with 425 members attending. Tower Hamlets Unison has held for members in schools of 280 and another for reps and contacts will saw 110 attend. They are encouraging members to send round a collective letter for members to sign and them send to the head saying they won’t return until the unions say it’s safe.
The next week will see meetings and events across the country to organise the resistance to schools opening.
We've had clap for carers, and rightly so, but amid this Dominic Cummings scandal it's time to Boo for Boris.
So, on Tuesday 26th May, observing strict social distancing from your own doorstep, join us as we turn our backs and "Boo for Boris". Show this government that we will not accept one rule for them and another for us. So boo: Boo for the poor handling of this Covid-19 crisis, boo for government privilege, boo for Boris.
4 PM Wednesday May 27
Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/96264268888
Meeting ID: 962 6426 8888 Password: 732327
Join our Zoom meeting if you are concerned about the governments plans and want to do something about it!Speakers local parents, teachers & healthworkers
The decision of the government to reopen schools on June 1st is a dangerous gamble that runs aganst scientific advice on how to keep infection rates low. In France we have seen this happen with schools having to be closed soon after reopening in response to new infections. The NEU has provided Five Tests that must be met before schools should think about reopening. All education unions have written to the government in opposition to the plan to reopen schools without ensuring this is safe.
If you have any questions or require technical help please message us :) This meeting is supported by Oxfordshire NEU.
6pm Wednesday 27th May
Emergency national meeting for school staff, educators, parents, rank & file trade unionists to discuss how we can stop an unsafe return to schools on 1 June. This will be a particpatory meeting on Zoom.
Speakers will include teachers and educators • healthworkers • parents • rank and file trade unionists • more tbc
Boris Johnson has announced that the government will push ahead with the reckless decision to re-open schools on 1 June, at the same time as defending the indefensible actions of Dominic Cummings.
Thursday 28th May
On Thursday 28 May the government has said it will make a final decision on sending schools back on Monday 1 June. The NHS is barely coping with the pandemic and has yet to have enough capacity to open up to provide all the the essential care needed by the population. A second wave risks overloading the NHS and creating further delays for patients requiring treatment unrelated to Covid-19. We are calling for everyone to stand with educators, parents and students and do something on the day to show the government opening schools is unsafe. This could include:
What you can do:
- Sign the open letter to Oxfordshire County Council against an unsafe opening of schools on June 1st
- Join the car cavalcade (convoy with cars decorated with posters - lead car has a PA to broadcast message) 5-6 pm to tour Botley calling on people to not return to school until it is safe to do so.
- Take a selfie of the 'No going back to school until it is safe' poster and post on social media with hashtags #NoReturnUnsafe, #DontEndLockdown and #FiveTests
- Parents can take selfies with posters about keeping schools closed until safe and post on social media
- Use your exercise walk to put posters near your local schools and shops.
- Hold a physically distanced protest outside your workplace with banner and posters
- Hold an online meeting for union members to discuss why we should oppose ending the lockdown too soon
- produce a short video of branch activists saying why they think we should not end the lockdown yet
Posters produced by the Oxford Trade Union Covid-19 Action group against lifting the lockdown can be downloaded here.
Next Oxford SWP online discussion - all welcome.
Zoom meeting ID: 864 4220 7368 Password: 967537
The Covid-19 pandemic has already led to a rise in racism and hatred. Donald Trump deliberately calls it the Chinese Virus. Other far-right governments have used the disease to intensify authoritarian measures, and in the case of Hungary, even allowed Victor Orban to rule by decree. Fascist groups have a long tradition of using environmental issues to say the world is over-populated, or destruction is caused by specific nations or ethnic groups. How are they reacting to Covid-19? What can we do to build the anti-racist and anti-fascist movements in a time of pandemic?
June 1st Day of action - no return to unsafe schools
Events to be confirmed. Check out the Oxford Trade Union Covid Action facebook page
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