After a long-running dispute, Durham County Council has offered its teaching assistants a new deal. 

Plans revealed last year by the council to alter the teaching assistants’ contracts resulted in a wave of protests and strikes.

The teaching assistants were angry at council plans to fire them then re-employ them on new contracts.  

These contracts would have seen the TAs paid only for the term-time hours they worked and not for holiday periods. The TAs claimed this could leave them up to £5,000 a year out of pocket. 

The strikes, by the Unison and Association of Teachers and Lecturers unions, came to an end in December after the council agreed to look into the possibility of re-grading its teaching assistants so they would not suffer a loss of income.

Durham County Council has now offered the TAs a new package of terms and conditions and has withdrawn plans to dismiss and then rehire them. The teaching assistants most affected by the change to term-time hours will be compensated for two years. 

Unison, which represents the majority of the TAs, has welcomed the council’s offer. The union will put the council’s proposals to its membership next week.

A Unison spokesperson said, “After several months of tough talking, a revised and improved offer has been proposed that will benefit the majority of teaching assistants.” 

“Strikes and relentless campaigning by dedicated teaching assistants, along with the support of the community, have been crucial in moving the council from its original position.”

“Dismissing, rehiring then cutting the pay of so many education professionals would have risked many quitting their jobs. That would have had a huge impact in the classroom.”

Durham County Council commented, “The vast majority of teaching assistants will see an improvement in their financial position.”

“We also recognise that there will still be some TAs who may see a reduction once the two-year compensatory period is over, and we will therefore continue to work with the unions with a real focus on this group.”

(Featured image courtesy of Michelle TeGrootenhuis, from Flickr Creative Commons)

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David writes about local news, thought provoking stories, and yearns to capture the community spirit with a unique writing style.


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