England

Durham teaching assistants set pay deal strike dates

Rally in Durham
Image caption Teaching assistants attended a recent rally in Durham

Teaching assistants in County Durham will strike for two days after rejecting a deal some claim would see them lose up to 20% of their salary.

About 2,000 members of Unison are angry at Durham County Council's plan to only pay them during term time and will strike on 8 and 9 November.

The decision was backed by 93% of members who voted, some of whom said they felt "undervalued".

The council said that "the status quo is not an option".

It added it faces a risk of equal pay claims from other employees if it does not act on teaching assistants.

Margaret Whellans, corporate director of children and young people's services, said the council has negotiated with unions to double compensation and offered to delay implementation of the new contracts.

The director said two unions had agreed to accept its final offer which Unison rejected.

She added the council will work with the school governors to help them mitigate the impact of this strike on pupils.

'Treated appallingly'

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "No one should ever have to face a salary cut of almost a quarter. These staff have been treated appallingly."

Unison northern regional secretary Clare Williams said: "Nobody wants to see schools closed and teaching assistants on picket lines, but until Durham Council drops its plan to slash their salaries, that's inevitable... the council needs to think again."

In September, about 200 teaching assistants who are members of the GMB union voted to accept the council's proposals.

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