The following statement is issued following a third round of productive talks with Unison regarding seeking a solution to the current dispute involving the terms of employment for teaching assistants in County Durham.

John Hewitt, Corporate Director of resources at Durham County Council, said: “I am pleased to say these talks have been positive and productive and an agreement has been reached which means tomorrow’s industrial action by Teaching Assistants in Unison has been called off.

“We are clear that an equal pay risk exists that needs to be addressed. However it is also important to properly examine aspects of the employment of teaching assistants which merit further review given some of the information which has come to light recently.

“We have agreed to undertake a review of teaching assistants’ role, function, job description and activities within the breadth of school activities, to establish whether current job descriptions adequately describe the role being undertaken.

“This review will not re-open the single status agreement currently in place. The timescale for its completion is by the 1 September 2017.

“To enable this to take place, as an act of good will, we have agreed we will suspend the dismissal and re-engage process while the review is undertaken within the timescale above.

“This is a very complex situation and it has also resulted in us having further discussions with other recognised trade unions. We look forward to working with these trade unions on the way forward and very much appreciate Unison’s decision to call off tomorrow’s planned action.”

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