Teaching assistants (TAs) across County Durham are gearing up to reject a deal cooked up by the Labour-run council and union officials.
The majority are members of the Unison union.
Their general secretary Dave Prentis said last week that the dispute had “ended”. Prentis said TAs were “now talking about protection with nobody losing”.
Durham TAs explained to Socialist Worker why they are organising to reject the deal.
Trish said, “So many are losing large amounts of money despite having to extend their hours and duties. I am so disappointed and very angry.”
Gillian said, “I feel very let down. A smiling Unison official told us that from day one no one would lose any money and that after two years’ pay protection only a tiny percentage would lose.
“We now find 22 percent—472 TAs—are in this group with several, not just the one they claimed, losing over £4,000.
“I’m supposed to be a winner. I get a two-year pay freeze, hundreds of extra hours a year and a massive increase in responsibility.”
Workers have been fighting attacks on their pay since late 2015.
Lisa said, “I didn’t give my life up for 21 months for this offer. We are highly trained and highly skilled, and we feel that we are being let down time and time again.
“I said no in 2015. I said no to suspend the strikes last year. I will continue to say no until we get a resolution which is right and fair for all.”
Caroline said bosses may think “we’re the kind of people who can go back to work knowing that some are gaining while others lose”.
She said, “They clearly haven’t learned anything about Durham TAs.”
Anne agreed, “This offer is divisive. Placards are being dusted down as we fear industrial action is on the horizon.”
Claire added, “I am ready to get back out onto the picket lines.
“We started this together and we will finish this together. If one TA loses we all lose.”
Four walkouts against pay cuts of up to 23 percent late last year grew in strength and saw TAs grow in confidence.
But union officials called off the action without any real consultation.
The strength of the TAs’ solid walkouts forced council chiefs to retreat. More strikes can win a better deal than this.