Defend NEU Exec member Kirstie Paton: Support the Right of Trade Unionists to Speak Out!

The John Roan School - United Learning

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Kirstie Paton,  is facing disciplinary proceedings by United Learning, following a post she published in December 2020 on her NEU Inner London Executive Facebook page.

As a trade union elected representative, she is legally entitled to express concerns and criticisms of employers on matters of interest to union members without fear of formal disciplinary procedures.

So far 3100 people have signed it. We urge you to sign this petition to ensure these rights are defended when reps like Kirstie are faced with trade union victimisation for speaking out on behalf of trade union members.





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To: The John Roan School - United Learning
From: [Your Name]

Kirstie Paton, NEU National Executive Member for Inner London, is facing disciplinary proceedings by United Learning, following a post that she published on 19 December 2020 on her NEU Inner London Executive Facebook page.

The post expressed a critical opinion of DfE policy and United Learning’s pilot scheme, and their use of existing school staff to administer Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs). Her post was in response to a DfE blog by United Learning that described how serial testing was being used to replace self-isolation protocols in its schools.

Since Kirstie’s post, there have been numerous voices of opposition against the use of LFTs and serial testing in schools. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) informed the Government on 12 January 2021 that it had not authorised the daily use of the 30-minute tests for these purposes. This was because of concerns that LFTs give people false reassurance if they test negative, and that serial testing for close contacts of positive cases should not be used to replace self-isolation protocols. Since then, the DfE has changed its advice and has instructed schools not to use LFTs for this purpose in schools.

Kirstie Paton, in commenting on the health and safety risks of this policy, was representing NEU members, who had expressed concerns about the implications for their working conditions and the wider health and safety of our school communities. As a trade union elected representative, she is legally entitled to express concerns and criticisms of employers on matters of interest to union members without fear of formal disciplinary procedures.

This is a fundamental right of trade unionism and our freedom of speech, as enshrined in Article 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

We, the undersigned, call on United Learning to drop all disciplinary proceedings against Kirstie Paton and to respect our rights to trade union representation at work without fear of detriment.