Socialist Worker

Durham councillors make insulting “final offer” to teaching assistants

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2572

Durham teaching assistants show what they could lose

Durham teaching assistants show what they could lose (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Teaching assistants (TAs) in County Durham are furious at their Labour-run council’s latest attempt to settle a dispute over pay.

Durham Labour council insulted its 2,700 TAs last Friday by again announcing a proposal to attack their pay and conditions.

Councillors had already threatened TAs with the sack and pay cuts of up to 23 percent. The new “final offer” has minor tweaks to a previous offer—which would see almost 500 TAs worse off, some by around £4,000 a year.

Trish, a TA, told Socialist Worker, “Apart from the offer of a training programme, this is exactly the same as the deal we rejected.

“But most TAs are already highly qualified and unable to go any further so the training programme is a waste of time and money.”

TA Gillian agreed, “Our unions should not agree to ballot as there’s no significant change.”

Labour councillor Jane Brown, a cabinet member, claimed the council had “done everything conceivably possible” and “continued to listen carefully” to the TAs.

But Gillian said, “The TA stewards offered a proposal which I believe would have had the support of all TAs. As yet Durham County Council hasn’t even acknowledged it.”

It’s nearly one year since TAs voted by 93 percent to strike.

And the dispute enters its third school year this month. Union officials were forced by rank and file resistance to ballot and then call strikes.

Lots of TAs were rightly angry with officials in the Unison union for suspending the strikes.

More strikes can finally deliver the win Durham TAs deserve.

TA Caroline said “It’s starting to feel like industrial action is the only language the council understands.”

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