Today, at Durham County Council, I attended a Special Meeting of the Full Council which had as part of the agenda Recommendations to Terminate and then Re-engage Teaching Assistants on revised terms and conditions.
After a vote the recommendations were approved with 57 for, 18 against, with 4 abstentions.
I voted against the recommendations having real concerns over the council’s treatment of the Teaching Assistants in proposing to amend contracts, and reduce wages for some of the poorest paid employees of the council.
The council got themselves in this situation a number of years ago and should have recognised their own failings in this matter and approached the situation accordingly instead of approaching it in such a Draconian manner. Some six months ago, when a number of us tried to convince the council to re-scrutinise their approach, Cllr. Owen Temple proposed a motion for the situation to be reconsidered. The Labour Group presented an unrelated motion to talk out time (Fillibusting) so the motion could not be put to the council, one of our own Spennymoor councillors taking part.
I do not believe that you can do this to someone who entered into a contract in good faith, to change their contract on pay and working hours is wrong. There may well be T.A.s whose personnel situations cannot allow them to sign such a new contract. T.A.s are an integral part of our children’s education; they are a valued member of children’s’ lives and should be treated accordingly.
Cllr. Kevin Thompson