The UK Educators Safety Committee held an online meeting on Saturday to outline a response to the pandemic based on science and the need to protect the health, livelihoods and lives of workers. He proposed a program to oppose the collective immunity policies of Prime Minister Boris Johnson which sacrificed 150,000 lives to protect profits.
As the worldwide death toll exceeds four million, public health restrictions are being lifted in country after country as more communicable variants such as Delta spread exponentially.
Tania Kent, member of the Socialist Equality Party, specialist teacher and chairperson of the Grassroots Educators’ Safety Committee, explained the objective of popularizing âthe appeal launched by the International Committee of the Fourth International for the creation of ‘an International Workers’ Alliance. grassroots committees to organize the global response.
She explained how British Prime Minister Johnson said, in ending the Covid restrictions, âI want to stress up front that this pandemic is far from over. There could be 50,000 cases a day.
The Long Covid Kids support group reports 59 pediatric deaths from COVID and 9,000 children with a long COVID extending beyond 12 months.
âA government that claims to act in the best interests of children,â Kent said, âis allowed to monitor the death and suffering of young children, without contesting what passes for official working class organizations.
Shadow Labor Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth complained that the government’s announcement “is not a guarantee that the restrictions will end, only what it will look like”.
The National Education Union (NEU) issued a press release asking the government: “Are there any thresholds for the number of cases, hospitalizations or deaths that mean the DfE would do something different in schools? in September ? We all know the results of screening and delay.
âCalling a social crime of unprecedented magnitude ‘hesitation and delay,’â said Kent, âexposes unions as nothing more than an arm of government to enforce social murder. Their main concern is the threatened reopening of schools, not the threat to lives. “
âThe international working class must act to take ownership of the response to the pandemic, on the basis of the struggle for a socialist agenda,â Kent concluded.
Tomas, a teacher and member of the Group for Socialist Equality in Brazil, told the meeting: “Yesterday the government recorded 1,500 new deaths, which brought the death rate in Brazil to over 530,000.”
Coupled with the economic difficulties, this âprovoked a wave of social opposition. Brazil has seen three days of massive protests over the past month. Hundreds of thousands of people marched against the homicidal policy of the government of President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro âdiscouraged the wearing of masks and social distancing; promoted drugs without scientific evidence as quack remedies; encouraged disobedience to “containment” decrees and sabotaged the vaccination campaign. “
âIn SÃ£o Paulo,â continues Tomas, â100 educators and three students have died in public schools. Some 3,000 children under the age of 10 have died in Brazil.
âA month ago, the unions of municipal educators in SÃ£o Paulo broke a four-month strike against the reopening of schools. Two days ago, teachers in the state of Minas Gerais declared a strike against the reopening of their schools.
Participant Warren asked what are “the best tactics in the current fight?” “
Kent replied, âThere are no quick fixes. We do not diminish the tactics, [but] the main issue is building new leadership and new organizations, grassroots committees – the most effective way for workers to discuss policies that will protect them – school closures and strikes. “
Another participant informed the meeting that despite being âdouble vaccinated with Pfizer, I recently contracted Covid. I tested myself on the way to a family reunion with older relationships and found out I was positive before I got there. Being vaccinated does not prevent you from catching and spreading the Covid! “
London bus driver David O’Sullivan has been fired for educating colleagues about their Section 44 rights during an outbreak of COVID cases in his garage. He thanked âthe teachers and educators for supporting the public campaign against my unfair dismissal and the steps I have taken to ensure my safety and that of my colleagues at the Cricklewood bus garage in London.
âThe reopening of schools in September was a major factor in the tragic and preventable deaths of at least 60 bus drivers in London.
âLabor Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London are among the culprits. They issued a directive that exempted schoolchildren on public transport from social distancing measures and face coverings.
âThis was guaranteed by the tripartite agreement, which Unite signed with Transport of London and private operators, which puts ‘operational efficiency’ above the protection of lives.
âI joined teachers on the picket line at Oaks Park Secondary School in Redbridge, London, in carrying out a selective strike since June 15, demanding the reinstatement of four colleagues sacked for defending safety.
âThe four teachers invoked Article 44, the right to refuse to work in conditions which present a serious and imminent danger, in opposition to the resumption of face-to-face teaching.
“The strike in Oaks Park shows the will to fight, but the action has been isolated by the National Education Union.”
Henry Lee, SEP member, doctoral student, said: âThe government has announced that from July 19 there will no longer be any restrictions on face-to-face teaching at universities in England, on the basis of the lie that immunization levels have “severed the link between infections and death”. Students traveling between campuses and homes will broadcast the Delta variant.
âYoung people between the ages of 18 and 20 have been offered a vaccine from mid-June, making it unlikely that a large percentage will be fully immunized.
âThe government’s and universities’ ‘concern’ for the mental health and education of young people is proven to be a lie by the attacks on the courts. Dozens of universities have announced the abolition of artistic, human, linguistic and social subjects which do not correspond to the demands of the labor market.
âThe UCU and NUS unions have given up opposing the reopening of campuses and attacks on education. The UCU general secretary described opposition to commercialization as “a bit of a niche”, and the NUS president told the students that “nobody cares”.
âThe UCU lists a dozen disputes on its website but has justified its isolation from these struggles with a ‘tactical question’.
Mother of three and former elementary school teacher Lucia told the meeting: âOne in 12 [have Covid symptoms] for more than 12 weeks. About eight percent of children can remain disabled for the long term. It worries me that it causes changes in the brain. The story is that the kids aren’t hurt, even though we’ve had over 750 kids admitted to intensive care with PIMS [Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome].
âI campaigned to improve mitigation measures at school, especially ventilation. Classrooms do not meet legal requirements. They far exceed the safe limits for the amount of carbon dioxide, as they are densely occupied spaces with limited window openings. Some classrooms cannot open the windows. CO2 monitoring will help assess the problem, but it will not solve the problem, we need money for air filtration systems.
Responding to Lucia’s concerns about “parents not fully understanding the severity” of the threat, Kent referred to massive government and media propaganda that schools are safe and children are not getting COVID.
âParents are not responsible for this situation,â she said. âInformation is important to educate people, to ensure that the correct scientific evidence is distributed.
âBut most parents have been forced to send their children to school because they cannot survive without working. You have to overcome all of these challenges, like being able to isolate yourself on a full paycheck. “
SEP Deputy National Secretary Thomas Scripps made an urgent appeal to join the fight “for a mass working class movement to free jailed journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”
âWe discussed how to organize opposition to a huge crime committed by governments. A key front in this war has been the battle for the truth.
“The United States is calling for Assange’s extradition and life imprisonment for his commitment to the truth and exposing some of the most important lies of the 21st century.”
To join the grassroots educator safety committee, click here.