ATL’s Durham teaching assistants’ strike dates over cuts to pay

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Press release
18 November 2016 by ATL Media Office
Durham teaching assistant members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) will hold a second two-day strike on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 November over Durham Council’s plans to cut their pay by up to 23% - around £5,000 a year.

The strike by over 140 ATL members will coincide with a strike by Unison’s teaching assistants (TAs). ATL members will do all they can to make sure the strike causes as little disruption to children’s education as possible.

Instead of paying its TAs the going rate for TAs in the north east, Durham County Council is forcing a pay cut on all its TAs. The deal on offer is a lose, lose for all of Durham’s TAs. They get to choose between a pay cut of up to 23% if they do not agree to working longer hours, or a 10% pay cut if they agree to longer hours.

If the Council succeeds, Durham’s TAs would become some of the lowest paid in the north east. Level 3 TAs in Stockton-on-Tees and Newcastle-upon-Tyne currently earn £3,363 to £4,501 more a year than their counterparts in Durham, and the differential will grow if these cuts go through.

Emma Parker, ATL’s district secretary in Durham, said: “We urge Durham Council to get around the table and negotiate a fair deal for its teaching assistants. TAs in Durham do not want to go on strike, and they certainly don’t want to disrupt children’s education, but the Council’s failure to negotiate has left them with little option.

“How can a Labour-run Council justify cutting the pay of some of its lowest paid workers? Why is Durham Council refusing to look at fairer solutions such as paying its TAs the going rate for support staff in the north east? 

“Durham Council is ignoring the interests of children, who will lose out if thousands of dedicated, hard-working teaching assistants quit to work in higher-paying neighbouring areas or find other jobs so they can support their own families.”

Eighty-four per cent of ATL’s TAs working in Durham voted to strike against the cuts in a ballot with a 61% turnout which ended on 21 Oct.

The campaign can be followed on Twitter #ValueUs and @TAs_Durham. Follow ATL’s activity in Durham on Twitter @ATLnorthern and @ATLunion.