Calls from Teachers' Union for the government to prioritise teachers amidst fuel pump crisis

The NASUWT Teachers' Union have called on the government to make teachers a priority amidst the ongoing fuel pump crisis.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 4:45 am

With fuel pumps up and down the country currently lying empty and queues reaching hours in length there is growing concern that the education sector already hit so badly by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic could be facing another body blow.

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Speaking today Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers' Union said:

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Drivers continue to queue at open petrol stations as the fuel pump crisis continues.

“Despite Government assurances to the contrary, the continuing impact of shortages on fuel station forecourts is expected to cause serious difficulties for the provision of education.

“Following many months of disruption, it is now of the utmost priority that the Government takes steps to ensure that schools and colleges remain open and that teachers and education support staff are able to get to work.”

In scenes closely mirroring the pre-lockdown panic buying of March 2020 motorists have rushed to fuel stations nationwide to fill up despite the government's insistence that there is plenty of fuel to go around with fuel tanker driver shortages the cause for the delay.

Dr Patrick Roach continued to express his concern regarding the potential impact on school staff stating: “For many teachers, the use of public transport is simply not an option, with many schools in areas that are not easily accessible other than by using private vehicles.

Principle Matthew Fitzpatrick of Morley Newlands Academy confirmed that whilst there have been no staff shortages, the school mini bus is on standby. Picture: James Hardisty.

“The Government must urgently consider making teachers a priority group for access to locally available petrol and diesel fuel supplies. Without such intervention, many teachers will struggle to get to their places of work on time, adding to the daily uncertainty and disruption faced by children and young people.”

Despite these concerns local schools have yet to report any staff shortages as a result of the problem although admitted contingency plans are in place should the situation worsen.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, Principle at Morley Newlands Academy commented: “No one is missing but the school do have a mini bus, which can be sent out to collect pupils or staff if the crisis were to get to that point.”

Similarly Francesca Robinson of the GORSE Trust confirmed that trust cars are available if needed stating: “No, everyone is in as far as I am aware. The trust does have private cars that could be dispatched but that hasn't been an issue yet.” - Francesca Robinson, GORSE Trust.

Meanwhile Sam Done, Principle at Hillcrest Primary said: “Most of our families walk as they live in the local community. For those who live further out it was a concern but it hasn't manifested.”

Elsewhere Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) have urged the public to respect staff in petrol station who cannot be held responsible for the current shortages.

Paddy Lillis the Usdaw General Secretary said: “It is deeply disturbing to see panic buying back and it reminds us of the dark days of the first lockdown. During that period retail staff suffered a doubling of abuse from customers and we do not want to see that repeated. Abuse should never be just a part of the job and there is no excuse for customers to take their frustrations out on staff.

He continued: “The empty shelves and empty petrol pumps that we’ve seen this week are entirely the fault of the Government and their complete failure to get a grip on supply issues. Yet who takes the brunt of people’s frustrations? It’s not Boris Johnson. It’s over-stretched, underpaid, exhausted workers who are doing their best in extremely difficult circumstances. The Government must take responsibility for this crisis.”

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