UNISON condemns cuts to pay for teaching assistants

Threatened cuts to pay for teaching assistants in the North East have been condemned by UNISON. Staff in Durham schools could lose up to £5,000 a year under council proposals to introduce term-time only contracts from September 2016.

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The plan will affect more than 2,000 school support staff and was today (Friday) branded ‘divisive and unfair’ by UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis. He said: “Durham County Council’s proposals to slash teaching assistants’ pay are divisive, bad for morale and unfair.

“Term-time contracts penalise a predominantly female workforce and compound the problems of low pay. We’re stepping up our campaign for fair treatment for term-time workers by urging the council to have a rethink so that all school support staff are guaranteed 52 week a year contracts.

“Teaching assistants give so much to their schools. They go far above and beyond the hours or the responsibilities that they are contracted to work, because they care so much about the children they work with.

“They simply aren’t paid enough for the crucial work they do in schools. Penalising them for the term-based nature of their work – while teachers are paid for the full year – is grossly unfair.”

Dave Prentis’ message of support is being issued as schools across the country celebrate the essential work support staff do every day. Today they are taking part in Stars in Our Schools, an event organised by UNISON and held every November to highlight how vital support staff are to children’s education. Schools are marking the day with special assemblies and award ceremonies.

Notes to editors:

UNISON has submitted a pay claim to the Local Government Association, which negotiates pay for the majority of schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The claim includes calls for a joint review of term-time working to deliver fair, consistent and transparent contracts for school support staff.

UNISON media contacts:

Fatima Ayad T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk

Sophie Goodchild: T:  0207 121 5546 E: s.goodchild@unison.co.uk