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Five strike days announced at Coventry University in appraisals row

6 November 2019

Coventry University will be hit with five days of strike action and a marking boycott unless it responds urgently to staff concerns about its controversial appraisal process, UCU announced today.

UCU members are planning a series of one-day walkouts on Thursday 21, Tuesday 26 and Friday 29 November, followed by a two-day strike on Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 December.

Members of UCU will also begin action short of a strike on 5 December 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 dispute centres on the university's use of a controversial appraisal system, which the union says forces staff to jump through unnecessary hoops to achieve the annual incremental pay award that is standard at other institutions. UCU said the system has created unnecessary paperwork for already overworked staff and is even worse than its predecessor which left academic staff at Coventry among the worst paid in the West Midlands.

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

UCU said the university's refusal to negotiate properly on its approach to appraisals had left members with no choice but to take strike action. The union said the university had preyed on the goodwill of staff for too long and called on it to scrap the current appraisal system and work with UCU to agree a fairer approach.

UCU regional official, Anne O'Sullivan, said: 'Strike action is never taken lightly but the university has repeatedly refused to negotiate properly with us on its approach to appraisals. The current 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. Not only does it hold down pay, it creates a load of unnecessary paperwork for already overworked staff.

'Coventry University has preyed on the goodwill of staff for too long. If the university wants to avoid significant disruption to students in the run up to Christmas, it needs to scrap the current system and work with us to agree a fairer approach to appraisals that would see staff receive pay increases along similar lines to other UK universities.'

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