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Assistants strike for more pay

Classroom assistants are resorting to strike action as they battle to win pay for the extra work they are doing as a result of the workforce reforms, unions say.

In Greenwich, south-east London, education officials were trying to avert a strike due today by 70 assistants over unpaid salary rises. Unions in Liverpool have threatened strikes at up to 20 schools that have also failed to implement promised pay rises.

And in Brighton, Unison and the GMB unions settled a long-running pay dispute which included the first independent strike by support staff.

Brighton and Hove council will scale down changes which would have effectively cut the pay of support staff.

A Unison spokesman said: "Assistants are working longer hours than they are contracted to, because of the extra responsibilities... It's about recognition for work they are doing."

Assistants in Greenwich were promised pay rises of about pound;4,000 with the introduction of the workforce agreement. But more than a year later staff at Charlton special school are still waiting. The school says it cannot afford the rises. Instead, it wants to make redundancies and cut assistants' hours to pay off its pound;200,000 deficit. The council hopes the strike can be averted by a new offer to cut just an hour from assistants' working week and avoid compulsory redundancies.

Teachers at Park View primary Merseyside also went on strike last week, claiming performance-related pay was being withheld. Knowsley council criticised the teachers, saying they should have used the internal appeals process.

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