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Derby teaching assistants continue fight against £6,000 a year pay cut
Ian Hunter, Derby Socialist Party
Derby's teaching assistants and support staff are striking at schools across the city for five consecutive days from 27 February. This follows two days of action following half-term and a 24-hour vigil outside the council offices.
The campaign has gathered momentum and strike action has escalated since June 2016 when the council imposed new contracts with severe cuts in hours and pay for many. Local government union Unison says that staff are on average £94 a week worse off.
The campaign has garnered much public support. The council, which recently announced another £14 million of cuts and a 5% council tax rise, seems intent on sitting out the dispute. But this intransigence has only fuelled the commitment and determination of the workers.
Support for the strikers and requests to the council to end the dispute from Jeremy Corbyn have been ignored.
Unison rejected a £1.1 million 'package' and in response the council has rejected a Unison suggestion of a 'settlement' costing close to £5 million.
Until June 2016 level two teaching assistants in Derby received £21,000 a year, but after a cut to term time-only working now receive £15,000 a year - a reduction of almost 30%.
As one of the teaching assistants commented: "We've lost 25% of our pay, we're all struggling and we need to reverse the council's decision."