Education International
Education International

UK teachers’ unions: review of asbestos in schools must be released

published 10 March 2015 updated 11 March 2015

Staff and children continue to be put at risk, say education unions in the United Kingdom, who are urging their government to immediately publish its own review of asbestos management in schools.

NUT: electoral reasons behind the government’s refusal to publish the review

“Having accepted government assurances that the long-delayed findings of its schools asbestos review would be published early in 2015, the NUT now considers that the Government has acted in bad faith and that there is no intention to publish before the pre-election ‘purdah’ period begins on 30 March,” said Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) affiliated to Education International (EI). Blower is also the President of the EI region, the European Committee for Education (ETUCE).

She also explained that school staff and parents will rightly feel betrayed by this cynical attempt to prevent the problem of asbestos in schools becoming an issue during the election campaign.

During the nine month period since the Review should have been published (June 2014 was the original deadline given), it is inevitable that some staff and children will have been needlessly exposed to asbestos fibres, putting them at risk of future asbestos-related disease, she also explained.

22 teachers died of mesothelioma in 2012

Blower further stated that her trade union calls upon the government “to bring this issue into the open, admit there’s a problem and use the findings of the Review to work with the NUT, and other teacher and support staff unions, to make our schools as safe as they can be”.

NASUWT: a serious matter of the health, safety and welfare of the students and education staff

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) also wrote to the Secretary of State Nicky Morgan, deploring that “the continuing delay in the publication is driven by political considerations taking priority over the health and welfare of children and young people and the education workforce.”

After waiting through continuing delays, she stressed that this is a serious matter of the health, safety and welfare of the children, young people and the workforce in schools, insisting that asbestos is deadly and those who learn and work in schools face risks on a daily basis.