The plan will affect more than 2,000 school support staff in Durham and was 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.”
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.