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Call for full wage for dinner ladies

MPs are backing a campaign for school support staff to receive a full salary instead of just being paid during term-time.

A campaign, led by John Smith, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales, is calling on the Government to ensure term-time workers such as administrative staff, lab technicians and dinner ladies receive an annual salary.

As an interim measure, the campaign, backed by public-service union Unison, is calling for support staff to be allowed to claim unemployment benefit in the summer, which they have been barred from doing since 1998.

Christine Lewis of Unison, said: "We want people to receive a full wage. This will not cost a great deal of money as support staff are not highly paid."

"In the interim we would like to see the restoration of the jobseeker's allowance."

A delegation of administrative staff from schools in Mr Smit's constituency went to the Commons last week to lobby for the law to be changed. Among the delegation were Nicky Suggitt and Lynne Coates, administrative staff at Llantwit Major school in the Vale of Glamorgan. They get paid for 38 weeks a year, though the money is spread out over 12 months. Paid this way, their pay works out as less than the minimum wage.

They receive no retainer throughout the summer break, unlike lollipop staff. Ms Coates said: "This is not a fair situation. Effectively what is happening is a portion of our pay is withheld each month and then spread out over the summer."

She said the job of an administrator was increasingly complex. "Everything is on computers and that involves specific skills that need to be recognised."

The House of Lords is due to look at the anomaly over the jobseeker's allowance later this year.

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