Workers at two schools in Sefton, Merseyside, face a bizarre battle for
redundancy payments following the opening of a free school.
The Hawthornes free school replaced St George of England School and
St Wilfrid’s High. It is on the site of St George of England School, has
the same head teacher and teaches the same students.
Workers at the two schools expected that they would transfer to the
free school under Tupe employment regulations. But the free school
hasn’t taken on the workers – and now they’re in limbo.
Avis Gilmore is the north west regional secretary for the NUT union.
She told Socialist Worker, “The local authority says it hasn’t made anyone
redundant as they should have automatically transferred to the new
“That means they don’t have to pay any redundancy money. And the
free school says the workers are nothing to do with them. A lot of people
aren’t sure whether they’re employed by anybody at the
Trustees at the free school say they don’t have to pay any redundancy
money because the school is “a completely new entity”. They said this after
receiving advice from the Department for Education.
Trustees said if workers turned up for work on Monday of this week they
would be treated as trespassers and face security. Yet around 30 teachers
defied this warning and protested at the school.
The NUT, Unison and NASUWT unions, along with head teachers’ group the
ASCL, are considering legal action.
Avis said, “The free school has refused to talk to unions about the workers’
situation. NUT members in the school don’t know what their terms and conditions
are because they haven’t been given contracts.
“For those without jobs it’s very difficult to claim benefits because they haven’t
been made redundant. And Bootle isn’t overrun with jobs for them to pick up.”
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