As a new free school, the Hawthornes Free School in Bootle, Merseyside, opens its doors today, dozens of teachers are without jobs and are being denied their entitlement to redundancy payments.
The teachers are the victims of the failure of the Hawthorne Free School Trustees and Sefton Council to resolve the question of who has responsibility for the staff of two schools which have closed.
The NASUWT will today begin the process of legal action by lodging employment tribunal claims on behalf of its members against the Hawthorne Free School and against Sefton Council for unfair dismissal, redundancy payments, breach of contract and failure to comply with the statutory duty to consult.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers' union, said:
"The failure of the Free School Trustees and Sefton Council to resolve this issue before the teachers' contracts were severed on 31 August is quite simply unacceptable.
"These are teachers who have given dedicated service to thousands of children and young people and they deserve better than to find themselves cast adrift while the council and the free school trustees argue among themselves and try to pass the buck.
"The fact that the council is considering a judicial review on the issue doesn't meet the immediate needs of the teachers who have no job and no redundancy payment. A judicial review at this stage is cold comfort.
"The NASUWT has written to the council proposing interim measures to support the teachers, pending the outcome of legal proceedings.
"The Secretary of State for Education must also take some responsibility for creating a situation where there is a lack of clarity of the responsibility of the trustees of free schools in these circumstances.
"This is yet another example of the chaos and confusion the Government's ideologically driven education policies are causing."
Notes to editors
The NASUWT has over 40 members involved in this situation.
A copy of the letter to Sefton Council is attached.
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