Tuesday 6 September 2016

The Teaching Assistants: The Lions of Durham

It is a pity that Aditya Chakrabortty detracts from this otherwise excellent article by the bizarre claim that Durham County Council's Teaching Assistants are paid £20,000. But still, at least he has written about this scandal at all. Many of the TAs will soon be paid less than the £12,000 that is the Council Chairman's clothing allowance.

Jeremy Corbyn openly supports this campaign (I organised the meeting between him and the TAs), but this very right-wing council is having none of that. The Labour Group is objectively worse than the tiny number of Conservatives, all four of whom abstained on this, and far worse than the Lib Dems and the Independents, who voted against it. When the TAs marched at the Miners' Gala, then the Council Leader literally ran inside and hid. Well, he will not be able to hide on polling day next year.

The 57 councillors who voted for this (a huge number did not turn up, just enough for it to pass by one vote) have brought the Labour Party into disrepute. It ought to expel them. Certainly, they ought all to lose their seats in May. With proper organisation, taking down 30 of them ought to be a doddle. Let's make sure that we take down the right 30, with any more as a bonus.

Ignore anyone who claims that there never used to be Teaching Assistants. Durham County Council's decision to pay the term-time wage over 12 months, in order to stop the TAs from signing on in the holidays, dates from the 1970s. So it was employing TAs at least 40 years ago.

They are not, and have never been, paid for the holidays. Their term-time wage is paid over 12 months purely for ease of administration, and because, say it again, they used to have to sign on in the holidays. But it is a term-time wage, and it always has been. Once again, though, they are going to have to sign on in the holidays. If, these days, they can. Can you get JSA for this? It is not the old dole.

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