All schools’ workforce must be included in antibody testing strategy, says UNISON

In response to the Education Minister’s announcement of an antibody testing strategy which prioritises teaching staff, Rosie Lewis, UNISON organiser and schools lead, said:

“UNISON has continued to be involved and engaged in discussions with the Welsh Government about the reopening of schools.

“Health and safety remains critically important throughout this ongoing crisis. With this in mind, UNISON is frustrated and extremely concerned that the Minister’s announcement today prioritised anti-body testing for teachers, yet there was no mention of the wider schools workforce.

“This raises concerns about how the broader strategy will be implemented and whether the wider education workforce, many of whom are low paid women workers, will be given equal consideration.

“This approach will not work and will risk the spread of Covid-19.

“The reopening of schools is not as simple as making sure classrooms are safe and testing teachers.

“The practical arrangements involved in ensuring all school facilities are managed in a safe way are of vital importance.

“This will include cleaners, facility management, and school catering. Many of the workers in these categories arguably have contact with more pupils than teaching staff.

“School education relies on the whole schools workforce, and the antibody testing strategy must reflect this.

“We call on the Welsh Government to revisit their plans and ensure that all schools workers are treated equally in relation to testing.”

For further information, please contact Amber Courtney, 07908 143412, or Rosie Lewis, 07950 888963.