‘We will fight and we will win’ Prentis tells Durham strike rally

General secretary pledges support as 1,200 Co Durham teaching assistants rally on second day of strike

Some 1,200 Durham teaching assistants packed into a strike rally this lunchtime (Wednesday) to hear UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis declare: “If Durham council underestimated the strength and passion of Durham teaching assistants, they won’t now.”

“We will fight this pay cut and we will win.

“We will not have our members threatened with dismissal when they are standing up for their rights.”

The UNISON members and colleagues in the ATL were on the second day of their strike against county council plans to sack them all in January and re-employ them on new contracts which could see them lose up to 23% of their income.

But Mr Prentis told the packed rally at Durham Miners’ Association in Redhills: “If this council believes they can starve you back into work they have another thing coming.”

And that was a message repeated by other speakers.

UNISON assistant general secretary Liz Snape said simply: “Our message to this council – ‘You have picked on the wrong people’.”

And Northern regional secretary Clare Williams told strikers that “the level of support in Durham from the parents and public is absolutely rock solid.

“The council do need to take us seriously: this strike is one of the strongest I’ve ever experienced.

“There is no way Durham County Council hasn’t heard your message,” she told the rally. And councillors can be “in no doubt that we are in this to win it”.

The rally followed a lobby of the council this morning by hundreds of UNISON members and other support staff, plus hundreds of picket lines across the county both today and yesterday.