Schools in County Durham set for two-day closure as teaching assistants strike

Union UNISON says some schools will be closed completely during the strike.
Union UNISON says some schools will be closed completely during the strike.

Schools in County Durham are set to be closed for the next two days as teaching assistants strike.

More than 100 primary schools across County Durham will be affected by the teaching assistants' second strike in a long-running dispute over cuts to their pay.

School support staff plan to protest at dozens of picket lines across the county tomorrow and on Thursday, which will mean the closure of some schools completely, according to their union UNISON.

From this Friday until the end of term, teaching assistants will only work their regular hours.

So instead of working through their breaks, coming in early, staying late and taking work home, they will start and end their working day as set out in their contracts.

This action short of strike action follows a ballot over Durham County Council's decision to move teaching assistants onto term-time contracts.

This move will see school support staff lose up to 23% of their wages.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Durham Council can no longer have any doubts about how seriously teaching assistants are taking this dispute.

“Council plans to slash the salaries of its already low-paid staff are appalling and heartless.

“Surely now councillors will see sense and get round the negotiating table with a proper offer.

"Teaching assistants hate the idea of inconveniencing parents but this is now the only way for school support workers to win the pay they deserve.”

UNISON northern regional secretary Clare Williams said: “Teaching assistants are dedicated to their jobs and the children they teach.

“But they shouldn’t have to survive on wages so low they don’t know how they will pay their bills once their wages have been cut.

"Councillors should settle this dispute so that teaching assistants can go back to the jobs they love.”

For a full list of schools which will be closed tomorrow and Thursday, visit http://www.durham.gov.uk/schoolclosures