Unions say they are taking ‘unprecedented’ joint legal action to protect jobs and rights of more than 100 teachers and support staff


UNISON and the NUT are preparing joint legal action to protect scores of teachers and support staff whose jobs are under threat with the creation of a new breakaway ‘free school’ on Merseyside.

The unions have taken what they say is an unprecedented step over Sefton council’s ‘botched handling’ of the transfer of more than 100 staff to the new institution.

Both unions say staff who previously worked at St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School and St George of England Specialist Engineering College should have their jobs and redundancy rights protected in the new school, Hawthorne’s.

It is feared as many as forty jobs could be cut.

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.

“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”.

The new school is due to open next month.

The governors and trustees of Hawthorne’s have planned for only 60 jobs at the privately-run school.

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