UK unions press case for school asbestos removal

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has launched a new campaigning website to press the case for the removal of asbestos from UK schools.

Announcing the initiative on 17 June – Clean Air Day 2021 – JUAC said latest UK government Department for Education (DfE) figures estimate 83.5 per cent of schools in England contain asbestos. It noted official ONS figures show that since 2001 at least 305 teaching and education professionals have died from the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma.

JUAC is calling for an independent review of the government’s current policy of managing asbestos in-situ instead of removing it. The campaign is also pressing for funded programme for the phased removal of all asbestos, starting with the most dangerous, with completion no later than 2028. It also wants the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to undertake proactive inspections to ensure that educational establishments are managing asbestos effectively.

John McClean, chair of JUAC, said: “The continuing presence of asbestos in so many of our schools is a disgrace, when the risks to children and adults are so well known. Effective government action to tackle this is long overdue. A phased programme of removal, starting with the most dangerous first, is the only way forward.”

The national trade unions that form JUAC are ASCL, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON, Unite, UCU and Voice.


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