Unison announces exam board staff will strike this week affecting GCSE results day

Staff at exam board AQA will tomorrow (Wednesday, August 23) begin a further set of strikes coinciding with the days when schools and pupils receive GCSE grades, says Unison.
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It marks the fourth round of action in a dispute over pay and fire-and-rehire threats to staff, says the union.

Around 180 workers – including those in customer services who would normally take calls from schools, parents and pupils about the results – are walking out for five days up to and including Sunday (August 28).

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UNISON says the action could cause disruption for schools, which receive the results tomorrow, and for the pupils and parents who will be informed about the results on Thursday.

Exam board staff are striking again this week, affecting GCSE results day. Image: Ben Mullins on UnsplashExam board staff are striking again this week, affecting GCSE results day. Image: Ben Mullins on Unsplash
Exam board staff are striking again this week, affecting GCSE results day. Image: Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Customer services, re-marking enquiries and investigations into missing results will be affected by the strikes.

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The latest dates follow last week’s strikes (from Wednesday 17 to Sunday 21 August) that included A-Level results day.

Although not caused by the strike, last week AQA’s digital system experienced problems meaning that phone enquiries increased when there were fewer experienced staff around to answer and deal with them.

The strikes on GCSE results day are likely to have a more extensive impact due to the higher volume of results being processed, the union says.

UNISON says staff have been left with no option after senior managers at the exam board refused to improve a pay offer of 3% and threatened them with being fired and re-hired on different contracts.

Wages at AQA increased last year by 0.6% and this year’s offer is less than a third of the current lowest measure of inflation (10.1%).

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The union adds that the dispute will only end if AQA agrees to talk to its staff, but the exam board refuses to do so.

UNISON North West regional organiser Lizanne Devonport said: “With inflation at more than 10%, a miserly pay rise of 3% just doesn’t add up. Staff can’t afford to accept when bills are rising so steeply.

“But they’re also facing threats of dismissal and re-engagement on new contracts. It’s no way to treat employees. AQA managers must come back and discuss a fair solution.”

In response, AQA said Unison only spoke for a “very small proportion” of their staff.

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“Despite their threats of delays to results, last week we delivered A-level results to schools and colleges on time – and our people are here to help on results day and beyond,” a spokesman added.

“Results day should be about celebrating the achievements of our young people, not a pointless strike by a union that’s been repeatedly making misleading claims and very few of our staff want anything to do with.”

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