16th Jan, 2021

Union holds further protest over staff appraisals at Coventry University

Editorial Correspondent 28th Jan, 2020 Updated: 28th Jan, 2020

COVENTRY University is being hit by two more days of strike action this week as part of an ongoing row over staff appraisals.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are holding a walk out today (Tuesday January 28) and tomorrow (Wednesday, January 29). Staff will be on picket lines outside the university’s main entrances on Gosford Street from 8am, with rallies and teach-out activity outside the Graham Sutherland Building from 10am on both days.

It follow five days of strikes in November and December last year.

UCU regional official, Anne O’Sullivan, said: “Strike action is never taken lightly, but the university has completely failed to address staff concerns during recent talks so members have been left with no option but to walk out again.

“If the university wants to avoid further disruption, it needs to scrap the current appraisal system and work with us to agree a fairer approach that would see staff receive pay increases on a similar basis to other UK universities.”

The union says the appraisal system, introduced in 2017, forces staff to jump through unnecessary hoops to achieve an annual pay award that is standard at other institutions.

It says academic staff at Coventry earn over £5,000 less on average than lecturers at other West Midlands universities.

The union said it was disappointed that the university had failed to address staff concerns about the appraisal system during negotiations in recent weeks.

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

The UCU represents more than 120,000 academics across the UK.

In a statement released today, Coventry University said it regrets the disruption this may cause to student and staff who did not vote to strike.

The full statement reads: “We believe most people would find it logical, reasonable and fair to link incremental pay awards to performance.

“These performance awards are on top of the annual pay rise automatically given to staff. The fundamental link between incremental pay awards and the appraisal system has existed since 2006 and has not changed under the new online appraisal system.

“The new online appraisal system was introduced in response to concerns raised by our staff in a thorough consultation exercise in 2017 and was implemented over a two-year transition period to allow staff and managers to adapt. The reward package offered by the university is very competitive and includes an entitlement of up to 40 days of annual leave for many of our academic staff.

“We have worked hard to establish a common ground with UCU. We understand UCU are committed to strike action and that this is not a decision taken lightly by staff. We regret the disruption this may cause to students and the majority of our staff, who did not vote for strike action. We will work hard to minimise the impact to them.”

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