A review of pay designed to make local authority wages fairer has led to teaching assistants (TAs) having their pay slashed.
Cumbria County Council has uncovered anomalies in its TAs contracts which show it has mistakenly been paying them for a 37-hour week when they only work 32.5 hours. It also said they were receiving holiday pay in error.
The council discovered the discrepancies during a review of contracts as part of the single status review, designed to iron out inequalities in pay and conditions across council staff. It is now proposing to cut full-time teaching assistant pay from between #163;14,700 and #163;16,800 a year to just #163;12,500 to compensate for the error.
Unions claim staff should not be made to pay for the council's mistakes. They also say they have a right to holiday pay.
The move comes as the new Education Bill makes its way through Parliament, containing legislation to axe the School Support Staff Negotiating Body. It was set up under Labour to devise a national framework for support staff pay and conditions.
Jackie Franklin of the Unison union said the pay cut in Cumbria would be "devastating" for some TAs who were the main earners in their families.
Jim Savege, council corporate director for organisational development, said: "We have been paying teaching assistants on a full-time basis and for the whole year.
"We can't have some staff being paid for four-and-a-half hours each week that they don't work."