UCU members begin action at Coventry University

UCU members at Coventry University today begin the first of five strike days over the institution’s controversial appraisal process.

They will be joined by UCU general secretary Jo Grady today, with further strike days planned for November 26, 29 and December 3 and 4.

The dispute centres on the university’s controversial appraisal system, which the union says forces staff to jump through unnecessary hoops to achieve the annual pay award that is standard at other institutions. UCU said the system is even worse than its predecessor which left academic staff at Coventry earning over £5,000 less on average than those at other West Midlands universities. The union said the approach was unsustainable and would make it harder to recruit and retain staff in the future.

UCU members will begin action short of a strike on December 5 following the strikes. This will see them boycotting the university’s appraisal system and refusing to undertake any marking or assessment of students’ work. The union said the university’s hardline threat to dock 100% of pay for members taking action short of strike had only made staff more determined to fight for change.

In the recent ballot at the university, three quarters of UCU members (75%) who voted backed strike action, while nine in ten staff (88%) voted for action short of a strike.

UCU regional official Anne O’Sullivan said: ‘”Staff at Coventry University are sick and tired of being treated as a cost to be minimised. The current appraisal process is even worse than the one it replaced, holding down pay and creating extra paperwork for already overstretched staff. It’s an unsustainable approach that will make it harder for the institution to recruit and retain staff.

 “We are deeply disappointed that the university has failed to negotiate with us, leaving members with no option but to take strike action. The hardline threat to dock full pay for partial performance has only made staff more determined to fight for change. If the university wants to avoid disruption in the run up to Christmas it needs to scrap the current appraisal system and work with us to agree a fairer alternative.”

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