Industrial Action by other Employee Groups

In view of the industrial action by public sector unions on 20 August the following advice is offered to members.

1. HTs are likely to be viewed as "keyholders" and thus can be expected to open the school and close it at the end of the day.

2. On days of industrial action by other employee groups the employer has the right to be clear that no teacher is taking secondary action. Any member who is prevented from attending work on that day through illness should check what arrangements or requirements, if any, have been put in place by the employer. It should be noted, however, that an employee is not required to obtain a medical certificate to cover an absence of one day. The matter is clearly covered in the Handbook of Conditions for teachers (Part 2, section 6).

3. All health & safety requirements remain in force. In particular, if the designated first aid member(s) is/are not present then alternative arrangements should be made. The cleaning up of spillages of body fluids would require similar provision. Simply declaring a room out of use until cleaning can be effected would be a reasonable response.

4. Swimming pools should not be used if no life saving personnel are available.

5. Minimum temperature regulations still apply where school heating systems cannot be operated.

6. Children who require mobility assistance from support staff may require other arrangements to be made.

7. Members should avoid undertaking tasks which are clearly the duties of the colleagues taking industrial action e.g. general office duties including telephones. Such action could be highly inflammatory. As a simple rule: members should work normally. This might, however, involve certain tasks which would normally be carried out becoming impossible to perform.

8. If members are asked to undertake such work, they should politely decline. If members are instructed to undertake the work of others, they should ask for the instruction in writing. They should then immediately contact the General Secretary. On receipt of a written instruction to undertake such work members should again decline, state that a formal grievance will be raised and again contact the General Secretary.

9. If another union sets up a picket line (and it must be set up by the relevant union), members are asked to stop and listen politely to any case made. Members are advised, however, that they must cross the picket line. If they do not do so, they will lose one day's pay. It is also possible that such members may be judged as taking secondary action which is unlawful. While the Association does not accept this interpretation, it may be difficult to protect members who do not cross picket lines. It would not be a defence in such cases that the members state that they are working at home.

10. Further advice can be obtained from the General Secretary.

Published on 08 October 2008 - Information for Members
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