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Legal position

JOB SECURITY for those whose jobs are transferred to the private sector has improved since Margaret Thatcher's days, thanks partly to EU law, writes Steve Hook.

Tens of thousands of people were sacked during the late 1980s and early 90s as private companies advanced into areas previously the responsibility of the state, such as health and schools services. It is now accepted that European directives on TUPE, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment), may protect public and private-sector workers.

The Government says at least 1,500 workers were denied key rights in European law by previous administrations, and that employers had been allowed to avoid their obligation to protect their employment rights, and terms and conditions of staff whose work is transferred to another undertaking.

Staff at Fresh Start schools may have to go to tribunal before they know whether they are covered by TUPE. If the NUT wins its case, local authorities, governors and private firms will have to count the cost of overhauling staffing - something which can only make Fresh Start less attractive.

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