THOUSANDS marched through Durham on Saturday in solidarity with teaching assistants as they vowed to “stand up for education.”
NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney urged support for the “Durham lions” as he demanded Durham council join them in their fight for fair funding instead of attacking low-paid workers.
Trade unionists from Unison, ATL, the Durham Miners Association and teaching assistants from Derby gathered in the city’s Millennium Square before marching to the Miners’ Hall at Redhills for a rally.
Durham County Council agreed in December to suspend plans to sack and rehire teaching assistants on inferior terms and conditions following strike action by Unison and ATL.
But Durham County teaching assistant activists committee chairwoman Anne Richardson said: “We’re not going to go quiet until it’s a done deal.”
Unison Derby City Council branch secretary Nicole Berrisford told how striking teaching assistants engaged in a similar dispute over terms and conditions had taken the equivalent of 67 days of industrial action in the city.
“All I can say to you is keep fighting, stay strong and stay solid.”
Mr Courtney said he was proud to bring solidarity from the teachers’ union.
He said: “Schools can’t run without TAs. Schools can’t cope without TAs … TAs are the link with the community … they are part of the team of professionals in a school and they are massively underpaid.”
He added: “It seems to me that you cannot claim to value the education of our children if you don’t value the TAs who work with them.”
And he urged Durham council to stop attacking low-paid workers and join them in the fight for increased funding.
“Victory to the Durham lions … no cuts to education. Stand up and fight back.”