TEACHING assistants have called for their union to suspend a ballot on a new pay deal and has asked for talks to reopen.

The new contract offer for teaching assistants, which was approved by Durham County Council on Wednesday, is due to go out to a ballot on Monday.

Yesterday, the council agreed to withdraw notices of dismissal and re-engagement and has agreed a new grading structure – which it says will result in 78 per cent of teaching assistants getting a pay rise.

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But a committee of teaching assistant activists, who have led the 21-month campaign against the proposed changes, has now asked for an emergency meeting with Unison and senior council officers to look at which workers will be left worse off and why.

A statement from the committee said: “Our campaign has been built on solidarity and we are not comfortable with the large number of TAs still facing losses – 472 people with families and homes.

“Having fought together and supported each other for nearly two years, it will be very difficult for any of us to work alongside colleagues who will be facing a loss when some of us are not.”

They are also calling for the council to provide details of job evaluation score, to look at alternative proposals to avoid pay cuts and for Unison to carry out a presentation of new proposals before balloting members.

They add: “If the above is not agreed we will be actively advising members to reject this divisive and unfair proposal.”

On Wednesday Unison, which represents the majority of the county’s 2,168 teaching assistants, welcomed the decision by the council to approve the new offer.

In a bulletin issued to teaching assistants yesterday, the union said: “Whilst this offer is not perfect, it is a significant improvement on the council’s previous offer – especially for the majority of TAs who stand to receive a positive regrading.”

The council, which first set out to change teaching assistant contracts in 2015 following legal advice that they risked equal pay claims from its other employees, has set out a 37-hour a week and a 40-week per year contract, with pay linked to grade, hours and weeks worked.

It says no teaching assistant will lose money for two years and it will continue to work with those affected by a pay cut during that time to mitigate the loss.

John Hewitt, head of resources, said: “The complexities of this can’t be over-egged. We have over 200 schools with different agreements in each one.

“This experience has really pulled everything together for the first time in a long time. It has put us in a position where we’ve had a really detailed look at what is going on in our schools and built and offer around that.”

The ballot will open next week and will close on July 10.