Teaching assistant calls on colleagues to back UNISON ballot

Rebecca Ring, UNISON Cymru/Wales rep and teaching assistant at Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi in Cardigan

A teaching assistant in Wales says the cost-of-living crisis has had a crippling effect on her and and is urging colleagues to back UNISON’s strike vote to win an improved pay offer.

Rebecca Ring (pictured above) had to cut back on heating over the winter due to sky-rocketing costs and said any spare money has gone on energy bills and food.

The mum-of-four said things will not change without united action on pay and is calling on her colleagues to back a strike ballot launched by UNISON.

The public services union is balloting 360,000 local government workers in England and Wales as part of a campaign for fair pay.

Rebecca works at Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi in Cardigan and recently became a rep for UNISON.

She said: “The effects of the cost-of-living crisis have been crippling.

“Any spare money I’ve had has gone on energy bills and food. Without government assistance with our energy bills, we would be behind on them.

“Unless we stand together on matters such as pay, things will not change.

“Teaching assistants are an essential requirement in schools, and are on the front line of education, supporting students and helping teachers.

“Teachers value the support they receive from teaching assistants, yet the wages don’t reflect the help they give.

“Belonging to UNISON makes me and my colleagues feel like we matter, are being listened too and have someone fighting our corner.”

Over the past 12 years, council and school staff have lost on average 25% from the value of their pay when measured against inflation says UNISON.

Rebecca added: “My message to local government workers in Wales is make sure you complete your ballot papers and return them, without your support change cannot be made.  It’s so important that everyone uses their vote.”

UNISON Cymru/Wales head of local government Darron Dupre said: “It is appalling to see teaching assistants who provide such a vital service having to go without to make ends meet.

“After years of austerity, the value of council and school pay has fallen by 25% in real terms. Jobs have been cut, workloads have gone up, yet wages haven’t kept up with the rising cost of living.

“Everyone needs and deserves a pay rise that keeps up with housing, bills, and food. Otherwise, school staff will simply up sticks for jobs paying better wages elsewhere.

“Voting for strike action is the only way to achieve a fully funded pay offer that recognises the vital services school and council staff provide.”