1. ITV Report

Durham teaching assistants accept new pay offer

The dispute lasted for two years. Photo: ITV News Tyne Tees

Teaching assistants in Durham represented by UNISON, have overwhelmingly voted to accept the final offer made by the County Council to end the long-running dispute.

The improved offer, put forward last month, is the result of lengthy negotiations with the Council, which involved teaching assistants themselves. It is significantly different from the initial offer made over a year ago, and subsequently rejected.

Today’s acceptance will see the introduction of a new grading structure for teaching assistants and the setting up of a career progression board. The regarding changes will take effect in January 2018. The progression board will get to work immediately and will include UNISON teaching assistant representatives.

This is a great result for Durham teaching assistants. The deal that they have voted to accept means the majority of them will not be worried about pay cuts. It also provides a clear way forward for all teaching assistants regardless of individual regrading.

This is a significant step forward and means the majority of teaching assistants have been regraded. For those who have not, the setting up of the progression board gives a clear written commitment from the Council to work with UNISON to find solutions for all.

This dispute has lasted far too long, and caused too much pain, stress and concern for teaching assistants – and everyone who cares about local schools.

UNISON, as the union representing the vast majority of Durham teaching assistants, has spent many months negotiating with the Council. I’m glad that at long last we have been able to find a way of moving forward together.

Now the Council needs to make good on their commitments to all Durham teaching assistants, and work with us to ensure this deal is implemented quickly and in full.

– UNISON northern regional secretary Clare Williams

We are pleased to have found a resolution to this long-running and complex matter which is fair to our entire workforce and which reflects the value that teaching assistants (TAs) add to our education system.

We are now ready to proceed with the Career Progression Board and look forward to working closely with head teachers, TAs and the recognised trade unions on developing further opportunities for the workforce.

I would like to thank all those involved across the council, the recognised trade unions and our schools for their commitment in helping us get to this point.

– Cllr Jane Brown, Cabinet member for social inclusion and HR

We have fought a long and hard battle, not only against Durham County Council but the Labour councillors who voted to impose life changing pay cuts by sacking us then implementing new contracts.

Through our refusal to accept the initial derisive offer and the Council`s claims that there were no alternatives, we have formed a strong support network.

Our campaign is built upon this strength, we remain committed to support each other, ensuring nobody is 'left behind.'

– County Durham Teaching Assistants Committee