Employment

Exam board staff to strike on A-Level results day

“Many people can remember what it was like receiving ​their grades. No one wants to disrupt that​,” said an AQA worker who will be taking part in the strike.

AQA customer service workers would usually be answering calls from students and parents who may wish to dispute an exam result or query an administrative error. Image: Alexis Brown / Unsplash

Staff at exam board AQA will strike on A-Level results day as part of a five-day walkout over pay. 

The 180 workers​, including those ​who would normally take calls from schools, are protesting wages rising by just 0.6 per cent last year, union Unison has said.

The exam board has strongly denied that the strike will affect the thousands of students who’ll be trying to contact the customer services team on results day.

AQA offered staff a pay rise of 3 per cent, but with inflation hitting 9.4 per cent and the Bank of England predicted it to reach 13 per cent by the autumn, Unison said staff have been left with “no choice but to escalate their action”. 

“Disrupting A-Level results day is not a decision ​anyone has take​n lightly,” Unison north west regional manager Vicky Knight said. “However, AQA staff have been treated appallingly and ​only bold action ​will get their employer to the table.

“AQA ​must come up with a serious offer to prevent any further disruption.” 

Teenagers across the UK will be anxiously waiting to receive their results on Thursday August 18. Strike action has been announced for Wednesday 17 to Sunday 21 August.

This will be the third walk out from staff at the UK’s biggest exam board. Staff recently walked out for 72 hours on Friday July 29, and are also set to strike this Friday until Monday.

A striking AQA worker who wished to remain anonymous said: “A-Level results day is a really crucial time​. Many people can remember what it was like receiving ​their grades. No one wants to disrupt that​.

“After the first ​weekend of strike action, ​AQA staff were flooded with messages ​of support, many ​from people ​with children awaiting their grades​. They don’t mind waiting longer ​for the results if it means the people work​ing so hard to deliver th​em get paid fairly.”

Striking workers will picket outside AQA’s headquarters in Manchester.

An AQA Spokesperson said: “We’re dismayed that Unison has chosen to deliberately target students like this, but it won’t stop us from delivering the exam results our learners so richly deserve or supporting everyone afterwards.

“We have robust contingency plans in place to ensure that industrial action has no effect on results, and we successfully tested these plans during the previous industrial action in July.

“Our records show that only 4 per cent of our total workforce took part in that industrial action – and the remaining 96 per cent are absolutely committed to never letting our learners down.”

GCSE results day is Thursday August 25 and is unaffected.

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