County Durham Council raises concern over teaching assistant strike

County Durham Council has claimed that resolving a dispute over teaching assistants pay would cost millions of pounds and ‘hundreds of jobs’.

The news comes as teaching assistants in the area are staging a 48-hour strike over the local authority’s proposal to only pay them using term time.

The strike will affect 87 schools - 70 per cent will be partially closed and 19 will shut for both days.

Councillor Jane Brown, Labour cabinet member, commented: ”It was brought to our attention that the teaching assistants were on a contract that was very different from the rest of our workforce.

"They also get paid for more hours than they actually work and almost six weeks extra holiday fully paid a year than the rest of our employees - we really had to address this situation.”

However, Union bosses have argued the council's proposals would mean a 20 per cent drop in support staff salaries.

Clare Williams, Unison northern regional secretary, said: "It's very simple, there can be no justification to say you are tackling an equal pay issue by slashing pay by up to 23 per cent. Teaching assistants are dedicated to their jobs and the children they teach.”

"They don't want to be taking strike action, but the council has left them with no option."