Socialist Worker

Durham teaching assistants say no to deal that would cut their pay

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2521

Durham teaching assistants are fighting to defend their pay and conditions

Durham teaching assistants are fighting to defend their pay and conditions (Pic: County Durham Teaching Assistants/Facebook)


Rank and file teaching assistants (TAs) are organising to reject a “much improved” offer from Labour-controlled Durham County Council.

The council shamefully plans to sack and rehire 2,700 TAs on worse contracts and cut their pay by 23 percent.

Its new proposal offers “compensation” for two years, instead of one, from April 2017.

Gillian, a teaching assistant organising against the attack, said, “These pay cuts will have a huge effect on the lives of TAs and their families.”

She said that many TAs will be forced out of their jobs.

Rebecca said the latest offer means “we will still lose the same amount of pay—it is just delayed.

“The so-called compensation is just the council letting us keep our own money for two years.

“The choice is, lose your money in one year or lose it in two years. That’s not a choice.”

Sold

Unfortunately the new offer is being sold as “much improved” by Unison union regional organiser Helen Metcalf.

Unison represents the majority of TAs in Durham.

But Gillian said the TAs’ rank and file committee has decided it “will be rejecting the council’s proposal”.

“Other councils have sorted out this issue in ways that mean low-paid, mostly female workers, are not pushed into poverty.”

Union activists think the union is more worried about being exposed over selling similar attacks in other parts of the region than helping to lead resistance in Durham.

The committee holds local meetings for all TAs across Durham this week to get organised and hold the union to promises of a strike ballot.

An official consultation on the new offer is expected to run from 14-27 September.

Unison branch and regional officials should stop dragging their heels and appearing as if they do not want Durham TAs to defeat this attack.

It’s time to strike back.

Solidarity messages to spartacusannie@gmail.com Donate to the fighting fund at bit.ly/2coACPb

Derby TAs set to strike

Teaching assistants in Derby were set to strike on Wednesday against a 25 percent pay cut by Derby City Council, a Labour-run authority.

The Unison union members’ walkout is the first of five days of strikes over the next five weeks.

Coachloads of strikers were set to travel to London to lobby MPs in parliament.

The union has organised the walkouts against a new worse contract imposed in June.

The TAs had been left with the ultimatum of accepting the new contracts or being sacked.

Unfortunately their union did not organise action ahead of the imposition of the change.

It’s good that there is more action being organised now, but it will be a more difficult battle to reverse an attack already in place.


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