Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Solidarity with the Durham teaching assistants

Solidarity to the Durham teaching assistants as they start today their first two day strike. This is in opposition to an attempt to drive down pay using the excuse of “equal pay” to impose cuts on a predominantly low paid female workforce.

The news is that their action is effective.

Let’s hope they don’t need to take more action to sway their pay-cutting employers, who shame the Labour Party – but if they do we can all donate to the hardship fund.

This dispute highlights the dilemma of single status in local government, both from the point of view of how it has localised pay negotiations (so that people doing similar jobs in different localities can end up earning very different rates of pay) and from the point of view of the way in which (the least threat of) equal pay litigation can turn out to have unforeseen and sometimes unwelcome consequences.

The Durham dispute, with its longer-running sister in Derby around the same issue demonstrates that a serious threat really requires a simple response – resistance.

With the very real prospect of merger between the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (who organise teaching assistants although without national recognition) and therefore of an “all grades” union emerging in schools, UNISON and the other support staff unions will have to look to our laurels in defending the interests of members in schools. Durham and Derby show the way perhaps?

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