The NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has condemned the continuing and increasing number of attacks on trade unionists and on workers’ rights across the globe at TUC Congress in Manchester.

The Union has highlighted recent research by the ITUC which found systematic violations of international recognised collective labour rights by governments and employers in countries around the world.

The NASUWT has called on the UK Government to ratify and implement all conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which enshrines rights around issues including pay, freedom of association, collective bargaining and workplace discrimination and to use its influence to press for these rights to be upheld abroad.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“The right to be treated fairly at work and to be able to join a trade union and collectively organise should be a basic human right for every worker.

“The increasing attacks on labour rights both at home and abroad are scandalous and unacceptable.

“Workers and trade unionists routinely are arrested beaten and even murdered, simply for standing up for their rights.

“The UK Government needs to demonstrate its support for workers’ rights by implementing the conventions of the ILO and also use its diplomatic pressure and influence to press foreign partners to do likewise.”

Speaking on the motion Patrick Roach, NASUWT Deputy General Secretary,said:

“At home and abroad we need the TUC, together with the ILO and international partners to continue to show the courage, determination and leadership needed to defend workers’ rights at home and abroad, challenge those governments guilty of the most serious violations of workers’ rights and expose our own Government’s hypocrisy and the empty rhetoric behind its promise of a country that works for everyone.”


Some employers are attempting to manipulate the recently introduced GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) to try to pursue exploitative and discriminatory employment practices and to deny trade unions their right to represent their members, the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union has told TUC Congress.

The Union has told Congress in Manchester that some employers are misusing GDPR to seek to deny trade unions access to legitimate information on issues such as redundancy and equal pay.

The NASUWT has called on the TUC to press the Information Commissioner to issue statutory guidance to employers stating that trade unions have a legitimate right to be provided with information necessary to represent and support their members. 

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, moving the motion, said:

“Unfortunately, it is all too common for unscrupulous employers to seek to take a legislative provision designed to protect individuals and distort it to deny workers their rights.

“More and more examples are emerging of employers in the education sector seeking to withhold workforce data, designed to identify discriminatory practices and inequality, thereby preventing trade unions representing their members’ interests.

“Job loss, which causes appalling stress and distress, made worse by employers seeking to withhold vital workforce information needed for unions to seek to protect workers’ rights.

“These actions are nothing to do with protecting people’s personal data and everything to do with employers trying to pursue exploitative working practices and prevent trade unions fighting for decent pay and working conditions for members.

“We are calling on the TUC to press the Information Commissioner to act and to prevent the manipulation of this important legislation to disadvantage working people.”


Responding to the Public Accounts Committee’s report on Ofsted, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT – The Teachers Union said:

 “The NASUWT has always been clear that inspection has a critical role to play in a genuinely meaningful system of school accountability.

 “Schools should be subject to inspection, but they should always be inspected on the right things in the right ways.

 “To ensure that this fundamental test is met, it is critical that the inspectorate is given the resources and staff it needs to fulfil its functions effectively. However, the Government’s policy in this area over the past decade has been entirely wrong, based on slashing Ofsted’s budget without any reference whatsoever to the wide range of important responsibilities that it has to discharge.

 “The inspection framework is due to be revised in the autumn of 2019. This presents a valuable opportunity to consider the fundamental objectives of inspection and adopt a new conception of inspection and accountability which recognises the full breadth of a school’s contribution to the lives of its pupils and which genuinely supports schools to continue to improve and succeed.

 “However, for this process of revision to be meaningful, the Government must also give a commitment that it will make sufficient resources available to Ofsted so that its activities in future can be guided by the principles of effective inspection rather than by the limits of an inadequate budget. As the PAC has made clear in its report, this is vital to ensuring the inspectorate can retain the confidence of parents, the school workforce and the wider public.”


Tens of thousands of pupils and teachers and other staff could have been exposed to asbestos in science labs, after it was revealed by the HSE that two companies have been supplying equipment containing the deadly material to UK schools, the NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union is warning today.

The deeply disturbing revelation potentially means that thousands of metal gauzes used in experiments involving bunsen burners contain asbestos and may have been supplied to schools from as far back as 1976. Schools would have no indication that the materials were unsafe and potentially deadly.

The NASUWT has acted immediately to advise its workplace and health and safety representatives on the actions to take including:

1)    ensure the Headteacher/Principal and Head of Science Department(s) are aware of both the HSE and CLEAPSS guidance.

2)    any gauze purchased after 1976 should be considered suspect unless the supplier can provide the certificate from a UK based, UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited testing organisation that the gauzes are free of asbestos.

3)    suspect, uncertified gauzes must not be used.

4)    teachers must not be required to carry out the removal of suspect gauzes. In line with CLEAPSS advice, if there are no competent person(s) on site then a specialist asbestos removals contractor should be used.

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary said:

“It is shocking that suppliers, clearly it seems only interested in profit not people, have distributed such life-threating equipment to schools putting children and teachers and other staff at risk. It beggars belief that this situation has been allowed to happen for so long, possibly as far back as 1976.

“Whilst it is to be welcomed that the HSE Executive have highlighted this major hazard to the health of children and young people and all those who work on school sites, it is unacceptable that the two suppliers involved have not been named.

“The NASUWT believes that the suppliers must be named immediately, not only to enable schools to identify if they have used the suppliers and therefore may have this potentially deadly material on site,  but also so that they can be held accountable by those whose health may well have been damaged by using this equipment.

“The fact that the HSE has told these suppliers to immediately stop sending the gauze to schools,  highlights the seriousness of this issue.

“Staff, pupils and parents will be deeply anxious as a result of this announcement. If schools had the names of the suppliers the anxiety and distress could be alleviated as they could  confirm that they had not used these  suppliers.

“There are serious questions to be asked and answered about this appalling situation, including why it has taken so long to identify that suppliers are using such hazardous materials and what action the Government intends to take to support schools in the light of this revelation, including the costs that may incurred as a result of the disposal of this material.

“I have written to Damien Hinds, Secretary of State for Education to ask those questions.”

Notes to Editors:

The HSE have issued a statement stating that the HSE has been made aware that two UK laboratory supply companies have supplied schools and potentially other users with gauze mats which contain asbestos. The metal gauze mats are designed for use over Bunsen burners in science experiments.

The statement is available at

CLEAPS have issued guidance which can be found here and here

Additional information