AQA staff to strike on A-level and GCSE results days, Unison confirms

But union claims of results disruption branded 'scaremongering' by minister

But union claims of results disruption branded 'scaremongering' by minister

Staff at exam board AQA are planning to strike over pay on A-level and GCSE results days, as schools minister Will Quince hits out at “scaremongering” from their union over disruption claims.

The 180 workers, including results managers, heads of curriculum and customers service staff, will stage a five-day walkout from August 17 to 21.

The union has suggested that “thousands” of teenagers trying to contact AQA on A-level results day, Thursday August 18, could face difficulties getting through as a result.

But the exam board has again rebutted disruption claims, emphasising that results would not be delayed and that “robust contingency plans” were in place.

It marks the third walkout in the pay dispute, with 79 staff taking part in industrial action last month and another strike planned for August 12 to 15.

Today, Unison confirmed a fourth round of strike action from August 24 to 28. GCSE results day is on August 25.

While Unison said striking is the “last thing” staff want to do, it added that employees had been left with “no alternative” after the exam board refused to budge beyond a pay offer below current inflation.

Staff on strike

Unison and Unite have rejected a 3 per cent pay increase plus a £500 payment for staff, claiming the charity is “failing its staff and pupils by holding down pay”. AQA says the average pay increase works out at 5.6 per cent.

The current UK rate of inflation is 9.4 per cent. Last week, the Bank of England said inflation could hit 13 per cent by the autumn.

Unison’s North West regional manager Vicky Knight said the “results ‘machine’” could not “work effectively” without its members.

“We understand that there may be an impact on results day, particularly around student queries, administrative errors, customer service enquiries etc,” she added.

“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 with a serious offer to prevent any further disruption.”

But AQA has repeatedly set out to reassure students that results day would not be impacted by strikes, including by pointing out that those taking part make up a small proportion of its workforce. The exam board has around 1,200 staff in total.

A spokesperson added: “We’re dismayed that Unison has chosen to deliberately target students like this, but it won’t stop us from delivering the exam results our learners so richly deserve or supporting everyone afterwards.

“We have robust contingency plans in place to ensure that industrial action has no effect on results, and we successfully tested these plans during the previous industrial action in July.

“Our records show that only 4% of our total workforce took part in that industrial action – and the remaining 96% are absolutely committed to never letting our learners down.”

Schools minister Will Quince has also criticised the union for “scaremongering”.

“I think young people have enough to worry about and be concerned about, ahead of examination results anyway,” he told the PA news agency.

“To add this into the mix as a potential worry about whether their papers will be marked and their results will come through on time is totally unnecessary.

“I’ve had assurance that they won’t have any impact but unfortunately scaremongering of this sort of nature by unions is deeply regrettable.”

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