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Women win Pounds 70,000 after sex-bias claim

Two women teachers working in Forces schools in Germany have been awarded more than Pounds 70,000 compensation after winning sex discrimination cases.

Cathy Mason, 41, and Liz Stocker, 48, both National Union of Teachers' members, won the award for lost earnings and "injury to their feelings" after an industrial tribunal found in their favour last Friday.

As a result of the ruling a working party will be set up to eliminate the inequalities which prompted the claims. Members will include an independent Ministry of Defence equal opportunities adviser and representatives from the Equal Opportunities Commission and its findings will be used to improve working conditions for locally-recruited teachers working for services schools.

The women, who are both married to UK-based teachers living in Germany, won their claims after arguing they had been denied new jobs and retraining - and in Mrs Stocker's case, sacked - on account of their sex.

They made the claims while working for Service Children's Schools, which is controlled by the MOD, and pays staff on different scales according to whether they have been recruited in the UK or locally.

Both Mrs Mason and Mrs Stocker were recruited in Germany to give lessons to the same standard as their UK-recruited colleagues, although on less pay.

Part-time worker Mrs Mason argued that she had been barred from applying for a new post and had also been denied retraining. Both opportunities were reserved for full-time, UK-recruited staff or locally-recruited teachers who were already in other posts.

Mrs Stocker was successful with a claim based on being sacked because she was married, in order to make way for a single, female, UK-recruited teacher.

The tribunal accepted evidence that married women were more likely to be employed under the lower pay scale, a policy which amounted to sex discrimination.

It also found that Service Children's Schools employed more women part-time and fewer full-time than it should have done given the overall malefemale split between staff. This situation, it ruled, was further evidence of discrimination.

The tribunal awarded Mrs Mason Pounds 25,000 and Mrs Stocker Pounds 37, 000 for lost earnings, and Pounds 5,000 each for "injury to feelings".

Mrs Mason's termly part-time post will now become permanent while Mrs Stocker will be considered for the first suitable vacancy at her school ahead of any UK applicants.

Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said: "This result ends the discrimination that locally- employed teachers have suffered for many years.

"They are doing exactly the same work as their UK-based colleagues and the discrimination could not continue to be tolerated."

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