TEACHING assistants fighting proposed contract changes were joined by national activists tonight for a major rally.

The event, at Durham Miners’ Hall in Durham, was attended by hundreds of workers angry at Durham County Council’s plan to sack 2,700 teaching assistants and re-engage them on term-time only contracts.

Speakers at the rally included members of County Durham Teaching Assistants Activists Committee (CDTAA) and the Association and Teachers and Lecturers.

One of the biggest cheers of the night was reserved for teaching assistant Megan Charlton, who told her fellow workers they couldn’t afford not to strike over the dispute.

The Northern Echo:

Megan Charlton speaks at the rally Picture: Stuart Boulton

The county council says term time only contracts will achieve equality across its workforce. Critics say it will amount to a pay cut of up to 23 per cent for some staff.

Last week, the authority approved its “final offer”, to extend compensation from one to two years. Staff are being balloted on whether to accept or reject the proposal, and last night’s rally ended with a vote to reject it.

CDTAA described it as a “resounding rejection of the so-called compromise proposal with no dissenters” and added: “The fight goes on”.