Consett North is very well served by County Councillors. My Campaign Patron, the great Alex Watson. And Owen Temple:
For an industrial dispute which has been mishandled from the outset, it’s hard to imagine a worse outcome than where we’ve got to now.
The relatively small number of GMB Members (who voted to accept the council’s revised deal) will now be issued with variations of contract. So will the ONE member of Unite.
That means they will not be dismissed and re-engaged, but they will be put onto the new greatly worsened pay and conditions, and will receive two years “compensation” for the loss of earnings.
The far bigger number of Unison members, who voted very heavily to reject the revised deal, will be dismissed and then re-engaged (if they will accept re-engagement) on the new worsened deal.
They will only get one year’s compensation. Effectively that’s punishment as agreed by the Labour councillors.
The ATL teaching assistants were not offered a ballot by the council (they’re not recognised by the council in negotiations, though they have scores of TA members – unlike Unite which only has one TA member but is recognised).
As a result the council will now include them in the “others” category and take the view that “it is fair to now give those employees the chance to accept or decline the improved offer by no later than 21 October 2016.”
So no ballot for them when it counted, but effectively an individual ballot now.
If you wanted to enrage a workforce it is difficult to see how you could achieve it more comprehensively.
If you wanted to create easy pickings for lawyers it’s difficult to see how you could set about it more effectively.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.
We could still find a solution to the inequalities which undoubtedly exist between teaching assistants in this county.
If we based a proposal on exactly the same total cost across the workforce, so that schools neither profited nor lost by the changes, teaching assistants would almost certainly accept the changes required.
But to find a solution, you have to be looking for one.
In the macho world of Labour controlled Durham County Council that has never been on the cards.