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AQA union staff to stage 72 hour strike that could affect the delivery of GCSE and A Level results


Strike dates set after exam board fails on pay, says UNISON

Staff at exam board AQA are to stage a 72-hour walkout ​that could affect the delivery of thousands of GCSE and A-level results, UNISON said today ​(Friday).

The employees, including those involved in organising the awarding of grades, will walk out for three days from Friday 29 to Sunday 31 July in a dispute over pay. 

The action is likely to escalate unless AQA bosses re-open talks, says UNISON.

Many of the 180 staff affected say they’re struggling to make ends meet following successive below-inflation pay awards.

Last year they were ​given an increase of 0.6%​. This year they’ve been offered 3%, another real-terms pay cut, with inflation currently 9.4% and predicted to go up even further, says the union.

The workers have been warned they could be sacked and rehired ​on inferior contracts if they don’t accept the offer.   

UNISON ​North West regional organiser Lizanne Devonport said:

“Workers at AQA have been left with no other option. Pay has been falling behind ​prices for years and 3% isn’t a ​wage rise, with costs spiralling it’s a pay cut. Things are so bad staff ​are fear​ful they’​ll no longer be able to make ends meet.

“Workers only strike as a last resort. They’d rather be doing the jobs that they’re proud of. They don’t want to disrupt students and know how important exam results are to them.

“UNISON membership is growing and our message to AQA is clear – improve the offer or face further action.”

One AQA worker said:

“The wider public don’t necessarily get to see the work that goes on behind the scenes, but we delivered an exemplary service that was required even during the pandemic, and don’t think that is being fairly rewarded. We don’t want to disadvantage candidates. We value them and want them to succeed. But we have been trying to get a fair deal for months and have not been listened to.”

Another said: “We’re being pressured to sign a contract without knowing what’s in it. AQA isn’t even prepared to come back to the table to negotiate. It’s making me want to leave. AQA doesn’t care about the well-being of its staff. The strike will hurt me financially but I’m willing to do that because this deal is so poor.”

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