Staff at exam board AQA are planning to strike over pay later this month on the day students receive their A-level grades, says UNISON today (Monday).
The 180 workers, including those in customer services who would normally take calls from schools, parents and pupils about the results, will take action from Wednesday 17 to Sunday 21 August.
UNISON says this could cause issues for thousands of teenagers trying to contact AQA on Thursday 18 August, A-level results day.
The union says this is the last thing dedicated AQA staff want to do. But employees are left with no alternative, while exam board executives refuse to budge beyond a pay offer that’s substantially below inflation.
Wages at AQA increased last year by just 0.6%, says UNISON. This year employees have been offered 3%, less than a third of the lowest measure of inflation (9.4%). Last week the Bank of England said inflation could hit 13% by the autumn.
UNISON says AQA is stubbornly refusing to discuss pay with staff. The union is also critical of senior managers for threatening workers with the sack and re-employment on inferior contracts if they don’t accept the current offer.
These new dates will be the third round of industrial action. AQA staff are also due to strike this Friday and into the weekend (12 to 15 August). They previously took action on the 29-31 July.
UNISON North West regional manager Vicky Knight said: “Employees at AQA are disappointed the company will neither talk to them nor come back with a realistic pay offer. This leaves staff with no choice but to escalate their action.
“Disrupting A-Level results day is not a decision anyone has taken lightly. However, AQA staff have been treated appallingly and only bold action will get their employer to the table.
“AQA must come up with a serious offer to prevent any further disruption.”
A striking AQA worker said: “A-level results day is a really crucial time. Many people can remember what it was like receiving their grades. No one wants to disrupt that.
“After the first weekend of strike action, AQA staff were flooded with messages of support, many from people with children awaiting their grades. They don’t mind waiting longer for the results if it means the people working so hard to deliver them get paid fairly.
“AQA colleagues are coming together to take a stand against what’s happening. It was clear from the picket line turnout that there’s growing support, and we’re determined to win a fair resolution.”