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Language support staff win pay victory

HUNDREDS of language support teachers could be saved from salary cuts following an employment tribunal victory.

Staff working with ethnic-

minority pupils faced pay cuts after the funding for their wages was devolved from local authorities to schools last year.

The "Section 11" funding which had been paid to local authorities, was replaced by the ethnic-minority and travellers' achievement grant (EMTAG) for schools.

This led to the break-up of many authorities' language support units. Staff were made redundant and re-employed - often at lower wages - either on school staff or in reorganised education authority teams that sell their services to schools directly.

But last week, an employment tribunal ruled that Bristol Council had breached the contract of 19 language support teachers and made unlawful deductions from their wages.

In a case brought by the National Union of Teachers, the tribunal heard that the authority had made the decision that legal safeguards on salaries did not apply to Section 11 staff. Following the language suport unit's reorganisation, 19 teachers were re-employed. However, they lost responsibility points on the salary scale, despite returning to positions that were similar to those they held before the changes.

The tribunal ruled that the teachers were entitled to salary safeguards. Its decision will cost Bristol about pound;125,000 a year.

Graham Clayton, the NUT's solicitor said: "We are delighted that our action has been successful.

"This will solve a problem that has disrupted the transition from Section 11 to grant across the country since its introduction.

"A very large number of teachers will benefit from this and grant services will be better-valued, as they should be."

Complaints of unfair dismissal and race discrimination brought at the same time were dismissed by the tribunal.

The NUT has also taken action against Waltham Forest, Rochdale and Tower Hamlets.

In June, Waltham Forest avoided a tribunal hearing when it agreed to protect the salaries of six language support staff who had faced losses of pound;3,000 a year.

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