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From The Socialist newspaper, 16 November 2016

Solid Durham teaching assistants strike as 2,000 walk out

Durham teaching assistants striking against Labour pay cuts, photo by Durham TAs

Durham teaching assistants striking against Labour pay cuts, photo by Durham TAs   (Click to enlarge)

Alan Docherty, Teesside Socialist Party

Almost 2,000 teaching assistants (TAs), Unison and ATL members, in County Durham struck on 8 and 9 November against the Labour council that is proposing to cut their wages.

The action disrupted over 100 schools and closed 43 completely. Schools were picketed and strikers were joined by parents and members of the other teaching unions.

On the second morning of the strike 1,000 teaching assistants descended on county hall. The staff lined the street and received massive support from passing commuters.

At 12 noon the teaching assistants rallied at Durham Miners HQ. The hall was packed with standing room only as approximately 1,200 strikers and supporters sang and cheered. They also listened to speeches from Unison general secretary Dave Prentis and Lisa Turnbull from the Teaching Assistants Activist Committee.

Labour council

The strike was called after pressure from teaching assistants who have had to organise their own campaign to force Unison into action. Durham County Council has started the process to sack all 2,700 teaching assistants and re-engage them on term-time contracts that could cut their pay by up to 23%.

The Labour council claims it has no alternative because it could face equal pay claims because of the teaching assistants' non-standard contract that pays them for 52 weeks a year and time not worked.

Teaching assistants in Durham are paid several thousand pounds a year less than TAs in neighbouring authorities. These authorities pay all their TAs in accordance with single-status conditions. Yet Durham Labour council is proposing to cut their pay by up to another 4,600 a year and intends to impose the new contract in January after TAs rejected an offer of two years compensation.

Unison has been slow to take action to support its TAs. The TAs have had to organise themselves and Unison's officers were originally hostile to their unofficial organising committee, even trying to block and delay them from becoming accredited stewards. The TAs are now fighting to democratise Unison to ensure it fights for them.

They are determined not to accept any pay cut and are seeking re-grading to bring them into line with TAs in other authorities. Additional days of strike have been called but the dates have yet to be confirmed.

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In The Socialist 16 November 2016:


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Related links:

Durham:

triangleDurham TAs reject council's pay offer

triangleLots of discussions at the Miners Gala on the way forward

triangleNewcastle: fresh faces and the fight in Labour

triangleSocialists tell free marketeers "the pitchforks are coming" in Durham debate

triangleExcellent Socialist Party trade union meeting

Teaching assistants:

triangleFor Whom the School Bell Tolls: Our kids or the Tories?

triangleNewham academy strikes spread to Cumberland school

triangleThem & Us

triangleFighting Tory cuts to the schools budget

Strike:

triangleBromley library workers win strike campaign

triangleUCU members vote to end pensions dispute

triangleBromley libraries - indefinite strike action continues

Unison:

triangleTaking the anti-austerity message to the chancellor's back yard

triangleVictimised recycling strikers uncowed as Hull strike wave builds

Council:

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: Our local TUSC council challenge

Pay:

triangleUsdaw conference 2018: time for new era of fighting trade unionism

Labour:

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: How can councils protect public services?

Schools:

triangleChild poverty to hit 5m by 2021 - strikes can stop the cuts

Teesside:

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: The National Question

Equal pay:

triangleGender pay gap figures show need for trade union action

Dave Prentis:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

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