Teaching assistants (TAs) across the country are starting to feel the pressure of local council savings inflicted by government funding cuts to schools. Here we look at two examples.
In November, Durham TAs took industrial action for two days in a long-running dispute over cuts to their pay. They were threatened with being dismissed and re-engaged by Durham County Council on inferior contracts. This would have meant a loss of up to 23% of their pay. Over 90% of employees who voted backed strike action. Consequently, almost 100 schools were closed for two days. UNISON authorised £150,000 from its strike fund to support those taking action.
Derby school support staff continued to stage strikes up to Spring half term in their latest round of action against contract changes that have seen some of them lose up to 25% of their wages. Teaching assistants, school supervisors, admin staff and other support workers took strike action between 7am and 1pm every day during the week beginning 16 January. This followed a two-day strike on 4 and 5 January, after UNISON members voted to reject a proposal from the council late last year, saying it would only compensate some of the workers losing out because of the changes. Staff staged a city centre ‘love-in’ on 8 February to remind shoppers and workers on lunch breaks that the pay dispute with the council is far from over.
UNISON Derby City branch thanked the West Sussex branch for its contribution to their strike fund. We sent solidarity greetings to the Derby members taking industrial action to defend their pay.