A CARDIGAN teaching assistant has described the crippling effect the cost of living crisis has had on her and her family, as she urged colleagues to back Unison’s vote to strike for improved pay.

Rebecca Ring said she had to cut back on heating over the winter due to sky-rocketing costs.

Ms Ring, a teaching assistant at Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi and mum-of-four, 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.”

Ms Ring has recently become a rep for Unison. The union is balloting its 360,000 local government workers in Wales and England as part of a campaign for fair pay.

Ms Ring has now urged her colleagues to back the vote to strike.

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

“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.”

A Unison spokesperson said that council and school staff have lost on average 25 per cent from the value of their pay when measured against inflation over the past 12 years.

“My message to local government workers in Wales is make sure you complete your ballot papers and return them,” Ms Ring said. “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 per cent 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.”