National Education Union (NEU) members at Oaks Park School in north east London have secured a victory over health and safety.

With the backing of Labour-controlled Redbridge Council, the school wanted to force workers to travel and go into school with hundreds of others, simply to deliver online lessons from an empty classroom. This unnecessarily risked the chances of those workers catching Covid-19.

The school said it would discipline any staff who refused, including pregnant workers and those with a disability.

The anger was such that the union decided to consult members for a borough-wide strike, which would have halted all education across the borough.

Glenn Kelly, regional officer for the NEU, said: “Given that we have one in 30 Londoners infected with the virus, given that the NHS is overrun, why would Oaks Park School and Redbridge Council be willing to gamble with the lives of these workers and their families?

“Our members across the borough are teaching key-worker and vulnerable children in person. They are delivering online teaching to thousands of children.

“Why was this school making staff take a risk just to deliver an online lesson, when most teachers across the county are being allowed to do this from the safety of their homes? This is nothing other than bullying, and it is a scandal that a Labour council is backing such measures.

“I am pleased to say that the school and the council have now backed down due to the brave stance of the NEU members standing firm, and the backing the rest of the union branch gave. There can be no excuse to force workers to risk their lives, just to sit in an empty classroom to deliver online lessons.

“NEU 1, Bullying Management 0.”

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