Durham County Council’s corporate director of resources, John Hewitt, said: “I am pleased to say that positive and productive talks are continuing and as a result Unison has called off industrial action by its teaching assistants planned for this week.  In return, to allow this to take place, we last week agreed to suspend the dismissal and re-engage process and undertake a review of the teaching assistants’ role. “We remain clear that an equal pay risk exists, and that needs to be addressed, but 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.

“The review, which will look at function, job description and activities, to establish whether current job descriptions adequately describe the role, will be completed by 1 September 2017.  This will not however re-open the single status agreement currently in place. “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 and are grateful for Unison’s announcement today.”