Hundreds of Co Durham teaching assistants protest at pay cut plans

County council’s plans could see vital school staff lose £1,000 to £5,000 a year

Hundreds of teaching assistants protested outside County Durham council headquarters today against plans to stop paying them during school holidays.

The county council’s proposals to move the almost 3,000 school workers onto term-time only contracts, from their current 52-week-a-year jobs, would see them lose up to 23% of their wages, with many losing between £1,000 and £5,000 a year.

UNISON members involved have also been taking part in a consultative ballot on the council’s plans, with the result due to be announced on Monday when they return to their schools after the Easter break.

UNISON regional organiser Helen Metcalf said today that the members are likely to reject the pay cut.

“For our members, this is a life changing amount to face losing – for most it is equivalent to their mortgage or rental payment,” she told the Northern Echo.

“The impact is simply huge and we believe that the council does have other options.

“Should this go ahead, there will be a knock-on effect within our local economy and a potential skills drain for County Durham schools if experienced teaching assistants are forced to seek work elsewhere or leave altogether.”