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Equal pay - but not for all; School workers exempt from pay deal.

Byline: Katie Norman

SCORES of workers will miss out on a cash windfall from an equal pay deal because of an apparent loophole.

Nearly 3,000 low-paid Cardiff council workers, including school dinner ladies, are to be offered up to 59,700 in pay-outs to settle a long-running equal pay dispute.

But the deal excludes workers from voluntary-aided schools, which are all Church in Wales and Roman Catholic schools, because their staff are employed by each school's governing body instead of the council.

Workers at some of the schools were left fuming after the council sent letters by mistake telling them to expect pay-outs.

Among them is Wendy Rowlands, 61, who has worked as a dinner lady at Holy Family Roman Catholic Primary School in Fairwater, Cardiff, for six years.

The mum of two from Fairwater, said: "It feels like discrimination. I'm being penalised because I work for a Catholic school.

"The annoying part is that those National Assembly members have got themselves a pay rise but we're not even getting paid the same as other people doing the same job at Pentrebane School across the road.

"My pay-out would have been about SI,500 so I could have changed the car, but some of the girls I work with could have been getting 84,000 to 55,000."

Grandmother-of-four Kerry Fisher, 42, from Ely, Cardiff, is a midday supervisor at Ely's St Francis Roman Catholic Primary School.

She said: "We feel we're being discriminated against because we work in a catholic school. We're all absolutely fuming.

"There are members of staff who relied on that money. They've spent on the strength of it. This isn't fair."

Both the Church in Wales and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff have said their schools do not have enough cash to fund pay-outs for affected staff.

Cardiff council is legally not allowed to give the schools the money to fund the pay-out. When similar cases have occurred in England, it has always been blocked for legal reasons.

Anne Robertson, director of schools for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff, said: "It's very frustrating because clearly we realise this is putting staff in our schools at a disadvantage.

"Unfortunately, it's a situation that's beyond our control."

Both Mrs Robertson and Edwin Counsell, director of education for the Church in Wales' Llandaff diocese, plan to meet with union representatives to discuss the matter.

Mr Counsell said the voluntary-aided schools did not have the money to fund pay-outs.

He said: "We have urged that the local authorities should have extended this to church schools but they have said no, and probably rightly so because it would set a legal precedent for doing so.

"But as churches we are desperately concerned because these are people not earning huge amounts of money anyway."

The issue only affects staff at voluntary-aided schools and not community schools or Cardiff's sole voluntary controlled school, St Mel-Ions Church in Wales Primary School.

A Cardiff council spokeswoman apologised for any letters about equal pay dispute settlements sent to voluntary-aided school staff by mistake.

She said: "Across the UK, staff who work for voluntary-aided schools are directly employed by the governing body of the school and not by the council so they cannot be eligible for an equal pay settlement claim with the local authority.

"If staff who work for voluntary-aided schools believe they could be eligible for compensation under the Equal Pay Act, we advise them to contact their employers who are the governing body of the school."

Voluntary Aided Schools in Cardiff

St Anne's Church in Wales Infant School, Croft Street, Roath. All Saints Church in Wales Primary School, Ael-Y-Bryn, Llanedeyrn. Bishop Childs Church in Wales Primary School, Willowbrook Drive, Llanrumney. Christ The King Roman Catholic Primary School, Everest Avenue, Llanishen.

Holy Family Roman Catholic Primary School, Beechley Drive, Pentrebane. Llandaff Church in Wales Primary School, Hendre Close, Llandaff. St Alban's Roman Catholic Primary School, Mona Place, Splott. St Bernadette's Roman Catholic Primary School, Brynheulog, Pentwyn.

St Cuthbert's Roman Catholic Primary School, Letton Road, Butetown. St David's Church in Wales Primary School, Bryn Celyn Road, Pentwyn. St Fagan's Church in Wales Primary School, Drope Road, St George's-Super-Ely.

St Francis Roman Catholic Primary School, Wilson Road, Ely. St John Lloyd Roman Catholic Primary School, Brynbala Way, Rumney. St Joseph's Roman Catholic Primary School, North Road, Gabalfa. St Mary The Virgin Church in Wales Primary School, North Church Street, Butetown.

St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Wyndham Crescent, Canton. St Monica's Church in Wales Primary School, Whitchurch Road, Cathays. St Patrick's Roman Catholic Primary School, Lucknow Street, Grangetown.

St Paul's Church in Wales Primary School, Oakley Place, Grangetown. St Peter's Roman Catholic Primary School, Southey Street, Roath. St Phillip Evans Roman Catholic Primary School, Coed-Y-Gores, Llanedeyrn.

St Cadoc's Catholic Primary School, Shaw Close, Llanrumney.

Tredegarville Church in Wales Primary School, Glossop Road, Adamsdown. Ysgol Newydd - Holy Family Roman Catholic Primary School, Beechley Drive, Pentrebane.

Corpus Christi Roman Catholic High School, Ty-Draw Road, Lisvane. Mary Immaculate High School, Caerau Lane, Ely.

St Illtyd's Catholic High School, Newport Road, Rumney.

St Teilo's Church in Wales High School, Llanedeyrn Road, Penylan. The Bishop Of Llandaff Church in Wales High School, Rookwood Close, Llandaff.

katie.norman@mediawales, co.uk

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UNHAPPY Dinner ladies from St Francis Primary School, Ely, Cardiff. Below, Wendy Rowlands.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 12, 2008
Words:886
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