Ballot opens at Coventry University in row over pay

13 February 2019 | last updated: 14 February 2019

UCU members at Coventry University are being balloted for industrial action in a row over pay.

Members are being asked to back both strike action and action short of a strike, which could see them boycott a controversial new appraisal system. The dispute centres on the university's refusal to adopt a national system for pay increases used by the vast majority of universities. The ballot closes on Tuesday 5 March.

The union says the system, imposed by the university in September, is even worse than its much-maligned previous version that had left academic staff at Coventry among the worst paid in the West Midlands.

UCU says the system 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, they must get their line manager to submit a business case to HR for approval.

The union says it has been left with no alternative but to ballot for strike action. It has been asking the university to enter negotiations over the controversial system and how pay is awarded, but the university has refused.

The union had hoped a working party, set up in 2017, would lead to the university adopting a more palatable system in keeping with the rest of the UK. However, the university instead chose to roll out its controversial new system at the start of the 2018.

UCU says it wants the university to adopt a nationally-agreed framework that would see staff receive pay increases along similar lines to other UK universities. The union says Coventry'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 regional official Anne O'Sullivan said: 'Strike action is always a last resort, but members at Coventry are furious they have been singled out for detrimental treatment by their university. Staff understandably want the university to use a nationally-agreed way to deal with pay and appraisals.

'Already amongst the worst paid in the West Midlands, this new system will leave them even worse off. The university risks serious reputational damage by striking out on its own with such an unpopular and damaging proposal. We want to resolve this without the need for disruption and hope the university will come to the table for serious negotiations.'

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