Councillors are to be asked to increase the compensation offered to teaching assistants following a meeting between senior politicians, officers, trade unions and mediation service ACAS.
Durham County Council will next week meet to receive an update on the consultation over plans to dismiss and re-engage staff on a new contract, which will ensure fairness and equality with other workers, and bring them into line with the majority of similar staff at other local authorities.
But in a final attempt to resolve the ongoing dispute without the need for that process, councillors will be asked to agree to up the offer of compensation for those affected from one year to two.
Cllr Jane Brown, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for corporate services, said: “All but one council regionally and many nationally have already changed to term-time pay for teaching assistants.
“Our proposals are aimed at providing fairness and parity across our workforce and ensuring that teaching assistants, like other council employees, are paid only for the hours they actually work.
“We have a legal responsibility to resolve this matter and have been in discussions with the unions and teaching assistants for a year in an effort to find an appropriate solution.
“While continuing to implement the council’s decision to dismiss and reengage staff on new terms we have continued this dialogue and, following a meeting involving an ACAS mediator, propose a final revised offer.”
If full council agrees, unions have committed to undertake a consultative ballot of their members on what is considered to be the best offer that can be achieved through negotiation. The result of this would be known no later than September 29.
If agreement is not reached through this process, the Council’s original decision of May 2016 would continue to be implemented with notice of dismissals being issued in early October 2016 and one year’s compensation for staff from January 2017.
If agreement is reached, the dismissal and re-engagement process would cease immediately and the new arrangements would be applied.
For more information on the proposed changes to teaching assistants contracts visit www.durham.gov.uk/newera.