Striking NASUWT members prepare to return to work
Striking NASUWT members at Buchanan High and St Ambrose schools are preparing to return to work tomorrow.
The teachers refused to go to school on Monday over fears the sites, which were built on a former landfill site, were contaminated. These fears have subsequently been allayed by experts, and the union believes remedial action taken on the campus, particularly in relation to the water system and the commitment to ongoing, regular testing, enables them to advise members they are safe to return to work.
Union officials are meeting today with council officers with a view to a planned return to work tomorrow.
NASUWT general secretary (acting) Chris Keates said: “It is reassuring that our experts believe that the remedial action that has been taken has now made it safe for our members to return to work. However there are still a number of important issues which need to be addressed.
“The ongoing health issues being experienced by some of our members, including those diagnosed with bladder cancer, remain of deep concern. It has yet to be demonstrated that these are not linked to the conditions on the site in the months and years before the recent remedial actions were taken on the water system and other aspects of the working environment.
“Only this week yet another NASUWT member tested positive for elevated levels of arsenic. The NASUWT and its lawyers will be continuing to pursue these, and any other cases which present themselves, with the Council.
“The NASUWT also believes that support will be needed for staff from the Council, not least to address the deep stress and anxiety that they have suffered over a long period of time, which has taken its toll on their physical and mental wellbeing.
“Whilst NASUWT members may be returning to work, the NASUWT is not withdrawing its current industrial action ballot and will not do so until we are confident that all of the recommendations in the Report are being implemented fully and we have had a series of air, water and gas membrane test results that confirm that there is no deterioration of the position, following the remedial work recently undertaken.
“If it hadn’t been for the willingness of the NASUWT members to take a strong stand on this issue, many of the actions which have now been taken on the site would never have occurred and much of the information which staff, parents and the public now quite rightly have access to would never have been made available.
“We have to be sure that lessons have been learned, that all involved recognise that the health and welfare of individuals must always be given priority and that this situation never happens again.
“I will be meeting with the council next week for further discussions to ensure that the progress which has now been made is maintained going forward.”
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