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Tuesday 18th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier in Manchester

SUPPLY teachers are being treated as “commodities,” delegates at the NASUWT conference heard yesterday.

The union is calling for national regulation of employment agencies that recruit supply teachers, to end exploitation that denies them proper wages, pensions and rights.

Many supply teachers have been forced to sign up to umbrella companies whereby agencies duck their tax and national insurance liabilities. Some teachers branded it a “scam.”

Daphne Robins, a teacher from Devon, said: “Let’s face it, supply teachers are a commodity. They sell us like cars to whoever pays the highest price.”

She said that she once worked at a school that was shelling out twice the money that she was being paid. Ms Robins described the situation as “horrific.”

Ruth Duncan from the NASUWT national executive said that the use of umbrella companies means that teachers pay “extortionate agency fees,” while being treated as second-class citizens with inferior pensions.

Marie Miller, from Hartlepool, told conference how she had to take a week off work, unpaid, when she hurt her foot on a school trip.

Patrick Ryan from Telford said that employment agencies “make larger profits than selling phones in Carphone Warehouse.”

Schools should be employing staff directly as it is cheaper, Philippa Bell from Surrey said.

NASUWT condemned the government’s “failure to regulate employment agencies and umbrella companies,” allowing unscrupulous providers to profiteer from children’s education.

And the union questioned the fees that agencies are charging schools and whether these represent the true cost of supplying temporary staff.