TEACHING assistants in Durham have won a reprieve from a 23 per cent pay cut planned by Durham County Council but said yesterday that their struggle goes on.
The 2,000 assistants, members of public service union Unison or the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), returned to work this week.
Blaming Tory government cuts, the Labour council had planned to sack the assistants on January 1 and re-employ them on new contracts with pay covering term-time only. Their jobs are now to be reviewed.
The assistants’ campaign of action, including strikes, won widespread support from parents, the public and the labour and trade union movement.
The assistants set up the County Durham Teaching Assistants Activists Committee to lead their campaign against the pay cuts.
The council has now agreed to “enter into a full review of the roles and responsibilities of teaching assistants.”
Negotiations between the council, unions and the assistants started before Christmas and resumed yesterday. Unions and the council have agreed a September deadline to reach a resolution.
Teaching assistant and campaign spokeswoman Trish Fay said: “This is not over. They have only suspended, not withdrawn, the new contracts while negotiations are under way. But we do now have the opportunity to work with the council to review our roles, which have changed massively over the last five years.
“However, if we don’t see real progress in the next few months, teaching assistants, Unison and ATL are clear that we will not hesitate to reinstate our industrial action to ensure we get a fair solution for all teaching assistants.”
Campaign committee organiser and teaching assistant Anne Richardson said: “We would like to thank the public and, particularly, the parents of County Durham for their continued support.
“It has made such a difference to all of us to know that the majority of parents were behind us and that they understood why we had to take strike action.
“They know what a difference we make and they want us to be able to stay in our jobs.”
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