- Created: Tuesday, 28 March 2017 14:23
- Written by North East FRFI
On Saturday 25th March 2017, supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East joined the Durham teaching assistants’ march to defend their wages and contracts. The teaching assistants have been engaged in a heroic 18 month struggle against Durham Labour council who, in 2016, voted unanimously in favour of cutting wages by 23%. The campaign has forced the council (who were due to be sacking the workers and rehiring them on the new contracts on 1st January) to temporarily back down and go back to the negotiating table.
The march was attended by hundreds of people, including Derby teaching assistants who are going through a similar struggle. FRFI supporters used their megaphone as an open mic, which people on the march took up. They helped with chanting and spoke about the role Labour councils are playing up and down the country in cutting services; how schools are being privatised through academisation; and the new racist school census which is being used by the Home Office to track down and deport asylum seeker children and their families.
At the end of the march there was a rally at the Miners’ Hall. The teaching assistants have no illusions in the role of the Labour council. They spoke about the need to fight them every step of the way and to vote them out of power. This was too much for Laura Pidcock, a Northumberland Labour councillor, who stormed out of the rally for the suggestion that Labour councillors who voted for the cuts to teaching assistants’ wages should be voted out of office. Real action, instead of empty words, is a step too far for the likes of Pidcock and other so-called ‘anti-austerity’ councillors who show up at protests and marches but who refuse to vote against the cuts. They are not welcome, and if they refuse to resist then they need to resign.
The outcome of the negotiations will depend on the continued steadfastness of the Durham lions and their supporters and a refusal to compromise with the Labour council. If the last 18 months is anything to go by, a historic and significant victory for the working class could be on the horizon.
Victory to the Durham teaching assistants!
No cuts to wages! No cuts at all!