In an unprecedented move UNISON and the NUT have joined forces to take legal action to protect school staff whose continued employment has been refused by the controversial, newly-formed Hawthorne’s Free School.
The action has been sparked by the formation of the new free school in Sefton, which has threatened the jobs of 100 support staff and teachers who formerly worked at St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and St George of England Specialist Engineering College. The new school and council are embroiled in wrangling over whether the staff have the right to transfer their jobs across.
With their jobs already at stake, many staff members have received a double blow with the threat of receiving no redundancy pay, in a move UNISON says is putting their lives and livelihoods at risk.
Jon Richards, UNISON head of education said:
“We warned Sefton Council and Hawthorne’s that we would issue legal action if this situation remained unresolved, and unfortunately the future of these dedicated staff remains in limbo, so we have no choice but to make good on this warning.
“It is an outrage that Sefton Council and the governors of Hawthorne’s are willing to gamble with the lives and livelihoods of their staff members. Leaving them with no jobs and no redundancy pay, means that some staff are facing the very real prospect of defaulting on rent or mortgage payments and losing their homes.
“The botched handling of these school closures has been an utter disgrace; not only are the futures of these dedicated support and teaching staff being put at risk, they have faced the double blow of being denied the redundancy pay to which they are entitled.
“We are asking the governors of Hawthorne’s and Sefton Council to think again and do right by these hardworking staff in this time of upheaval.”
Avis Gilmore, the NUT’s North West Regional Secretary said:
“This process has already caused much uncertainty and disruption to pupils and their families, now teachers and school support staff find themselves removed from their jobs without even financial compensation. We are determined to protect their legal rights. With Hawthorne’s continuing to refuse to accept these staff and slashing the salaries of the teachers they have employed, we have no option but to press legal claims”.
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