Teaching assistants strike over term-time only contracts

Teaching assistants employed by Derby City Council have gone on strike over term-time only contracts which have led to significant pay cuts.

The Council put 4,000 staff on term-time only contracts in June this year, which Unison has claimed resulted in losses of up to £6,000 a year for some staff.

Unison has called for the pay of teaching assistants should be agreed nationally like that of teachers and believes that term-time contracts for half the school workforce are ‘divisive, bad for morale and unfair’.

The union has also warned that around 1,700 staff, the majority of which are women, could be moved to term-time only contracts in Durham, which would leave some up to £5,000 worse off.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “School support staff are among the UK’s lowest paid workers, yet they are paying the price of continued government spending cuts.

“The squeeze on finances from Westminster means that councils are operating within a financial straitjacket, but penalising some of the lowest paid workers in society is quite simply the wrong decision.

“The impact on family budgets will be huge and could mean people end up in debt and relying on benefits. Teachers couldn’t teach without teaching assistants, and parents – who know only too well the value of the work they do – will be horrified at the way they are being treated. These employees deserve much better.

“When Theresa May became Prime Minister, she said her government would be driven by the interests of ordinary working class families. If that’s true, she should start by calling time on spending cuts and start funding our public services properly. Then councils wouldn’t have to hammer low-paid school staff.”

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