Durham teaching assistants announce plans for more strike action

Teaching assistants protest outside the County Hall Durham.

Teaching assistants protest outside the County Hall Durham.

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Teaching assistants set to strike again over pay cuts.

UNISON has revealed that Durham teaching assistants will be striking again next week.

Councillors should do the decent thing and settle this dispute

Dave Prentis

More than a thousand Durham teaching assistants will take the further two days of strike action on Wednesday and Thursday, 23 and 24 November, over cuts to their pay.

This follows strike action held in the second week of November, which resulted in 37 of the county’s 243 schools – mainly nurseries and special schools – having to close.

A further 76 informed parents that particular classes would see some interruption.

Teaching assistants employed by Durham County Council claim they stand to lose nearly a quarter of their wages under the new plans to pay them term time only.

UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “There will be no end to this dispute until Durham County Council realises it can’t get away with slashing the wages of low paid teaching assistants.

“We know the council is under the cosh from government cuts, but they have to prioritise frontline services to the public, and it doesn’t get more frontline than supporting our school children.

“Councillors should do the decent thing and settle this dispute. Schools can then return to normal and teaching assistants can go back to the job they love without worrying about how they will pay their bills.”

The row started after Durham County Council began discussions with unions over the issue of the fairness and equality of teaching assistants pay in September 2015.

The authority says it is at risk of costly equal pay claims from other members of its workforce who are not paid for hours and weeks they do not work.

Recently, following a meeting between senior councillors, officers, unions and mediation service ACAS, a final offer was made of two years compensation, with new terms to be introduced on April 1 2017.

Members of two unions, the GMB and Unite, voted to accept the offer, but Unison members, and members of the ATL union, voted to reject the offer.