TEACHING assistants are to highlight their fight against planned cuts in their pay by taking part in the Durham Miners’ Gala next month.

Faced with the prospect of being dismissed by Durham County Council on existing terms, the 2,700 assistants would then be re-engaged, but on less favourable terms and conditions.

It means the assistants, including those at higher level and with support status, will see their pay reduced, some by up to 23 per cent, from next year.

Many have said they would be unable to afford to remain in the job if the proposed cut goes ahead.

Assistants from across the county staged a mass demonstration outside County Hall, in Durham, prior to a previous county council meeting, and a rally at the Miners’ Hall, in Redhills, Durham, last Thursday (June 9) was almost as equally well attended.

Union leaders were sanctioned to prepare for a strike ballot if the consultation process now in place fails to yield any movement in the county council’s stance.

But the pressure will be maintained when the assistants join the various former colliery lodges in the procession of bands and banners to the speakers’ field at the Big Meeting, on July 9.

Kathryne Wray, of the County Durham Trades’ Union Council, which supports the assistants, said Durham Miners’ Association has agreed to the request to march on Gala day.

“I understand they’re hoping that at least 500 assistants march behind the banner, and they hope there will be the potential to get time on the speakers’ platform, as well.”

She added that it would help to spread the word and drum up more support for the cause.