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Derek McMillan

Brighton Teaching Assistants

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Teaching Assistants and General Assistants are predominantly low-paid, part-time women workers, many with children of their own, whose average take-home salary is £9,000 per year with many earning less than this. TAs and GAs undertake specialised work in numeracy and literacy, and carry out intensive work with children with behavioural difficulties and learning difficulties. The number of school closures necessitated by their absence is evidence of their invaluable role.

The TAs and GAs are employed by Brighton & Hove City Council and who have treated them with utter contempt. On the last occasion on which they took strike action, Ken Bodfish, the Labour council leader, condemned the strike as 'a very selfish act'. At the same time as the strike rally was going on outside the council chambers, a full session of the council confirmed that the council's new chief executive, Alan McCarthy, would receive a salary of £145,000 and voted themselves a 2.5% increase in allowances. Brighton & Hove Council is led by New Labour.

The TAs and GAs are represented by the UNISON and the GMB unions. The irony that both these unions give large sums to New Labour while are fighting a New Labour council is not lost on their members.

Edited by Derek McMillan

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