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New Covid cases up 51 with trade union ‘seriously concerned’ five days out from schools’ return

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There have been 51 new positive cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

It brings the total to 6,556 with 298 recorded over the last seven days – 10 of which occurred in the ABC borough, with 23 in Newry, Mourne and Down.

There were no further fatalities, which means the death total remains at 559.

Currently, there are 10 Covid inpatients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, however, there are none in ICUs.

Meanwhile, JNC Trade Union side has today said they are putting the Education Authority (EA) on notice in what they describe inadequate guidance published by the Department last week.

The Joint Negotiating Trade Union Side consists of NIPSA, UNISON, GMB and UNITE representing over
15,000 Support Staff employed across the entire Education Sector.

A spokesperson said: “Five days away from significant numbers of children returning to school far too many issues remain unresolved, with promised measures to protect health and safety yet to materialise.

“We are growing seriously concerned that the risks presented to our members who work as education support staff, particularly in schools’ transport, are not being taken seriously enough. Measures that have previously been agreed to minimise the risk to our members’ health and safety are not yet in place across Northern Ireland.”

The collective trade union says the EA has yet to fit protective perspex screens for drivers or install hand sanitiser, despite agreeing to Trade Unions’ request that they do so.

“It is unacceptable that the EA has yet to properly implement an agreed action such as this to protect the health and safety of our members, particularly given that such measures are being used on public transport,” the spokesperson continued.

“The EA is under legal duties to protect the health and safety of our members not only in transport, but also across cleaning, catering and other major support services without which schools cannot reopen.

“Our members have a legal right not to work in an environment where there are serious dangers to their health and safety.

“If the EA fails to step up to the mark and do the right things to protect our members, we will provide advice and support them if they choose to exercise their rights.

“We have demanded an urgent meeting of the JNC and will need significant assurances that the health and safety of our members will be safeguarded. Schools must reopen in a safe and responsible manner, not in a way that puts our members at risk.”

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