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Strikes on the cards at Coventry University in row over pay and appraisals

1 November 2019

Strikes are on the cards at Coventry University as part of a row over pay progression and the imposition of a controversial new appraisal process.

Three quarters of UCU members (75%) at the university who voted backed strike action in the ballot which closed this week. Almost nine in ten staff (88%) voted for action short of a strike which could see them boycott the university's appraisal system. Members will meet on Wednesday (6 November) to discuss next steps in the dispute.

The row centres on the university's refusal to adopt a national system for pay increases used by the majority of universities. Instead, they have imposed an appraisal process which forces staff to jump through unnecessary hoops to achieve the annual incremental pay award that is standard at other institutions. Before they can hope to get any pay increase, staff must get their line manager to submit a business case to HR for approval.

The union says the system is even worse than its predecessor which left academic staff at Coventry among the worst paid in the West Midlands. It said the university's refusal to use the system employed by other institutions risked serious reputational damage and would make it harder for the university to attract staff.

UCU said the strong support for strikes showed the level of anger amongst staff about the university's approach. The union is calling on the university to scrap the current system and adopt a nationally-agreed framework that would see staff receive pay increases along similar lines to other UK universities.

Coventry University UCU branch chair, Sharon McGuire, said: 'Staff are rightly furious about the university's approach to pay and appraisals. The process is even worse than the one it replaced and forces staff to jump through ludicrous hoops to secure what should be standard pay increases. This issue risks causing serious reputational damage to the institution, but the management has so far ignored the concerns of staff leaving them with no option but to ballot for strike action.

'The strong support for strikes shows the level of anger amongst staff, and we hope this will focus the employers' minds. If the university wants to avoid disruption to students, it needs to scrap the current appraisal system and adopt a fair framework that would see staff receive pay increases along similar lines to other UK universities.'

Last updated: 5 November 2019