10th Dec, 2019

Coventry University staff could strike amid pay dispute

Felix Nobes 13th Feb, 2019

COVENTRY University staff could strike in a dispute over ‘detrimental treatment’ and a controversial system for pay increases.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the university are being prepared for industrial action.

The union says it is asking its members to back strikes and a boycott of a controversial new appraisal system which makes it more difficult for staff to get pay increases.

A vote on whether to engage in strikes opens today and closes on Tuesday, March 5.

The dispute centres on the university’s refusal to adopt the national system for pay increases used by the vast majority of universities.

It forces staff to jump through unnecessary hoops to achieve the annual incremental pay award that is standard at other institutions, the UCU says.

Before they can hope to get any pay increase, they must get their line manager to submit a business case to HR for approval, it claims.

The union says it has been left with ‘no alternative’ but to ballot for strike action.

It claims it has been asking the university to enter negotiations over the controversial system and how pay is awarded, but the university has refused.

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.

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 among 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.”

A Coventry University spokesperson said: “We are committed to providing fair total reward packages, and we constantly review the terms on which we employ our staff, ensuring they remain competitive and relevant.

“Our pay policy has been in existence for more than 10 years and has been pivotal to our success over this period and, importantly, has enabled us to create over 2,000 jobs during the same period because of the growth we have experienced as a result.

“We are in discussions with UCU with a view to finding an amicable way forward that seeks to address their concerns.”

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