9 March 2015
Commenting on the fact that staff and children continue to be put at risk while the Government drags its feet over the publication of its own review of asbestos management in schools, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers the largest teachers’ union said:
“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. What this means is that the Government is effectively washing its hands of the problem and leaving it for a future government to sort out.
‘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.
‘As the call for evidence closed a year ago, the Government has had more than enough time to consider its response and set out the steps it will take to address the barriers to safe and effective management of asbestos in schools. In a 5 January 2015 letter to the NUT, Nicky Morgan advised that the findings would be published ‘early in the New Year’.
‘There is no good reason for further delay and we can only assume that fear of opening a can of worms in the run up to the election is the reason for the failure to publish.
‘During the 9 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.
‘22 teachers died of mesothelioma in 2012. If teachers are dying, then inevitably there will be children who will die as adults because of asbestos exposure whilst at school.
‘We call 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”.