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Thousands of GCSE and A Level results could be affected in AQA strike
22 July 2022, 16:21 | Updated: 23 July 2022, 00:27
Staff at exam board AQA are to stage a 72-hour walkout that could affect the delivery of thousands of GCSE and A-level results, Unison announced.
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Members of the Unison union will walk out between Friday July 29 and Sunday July 31, in the latest of strikes to be triggered by workers' unions.
Industrial action is likely to escalate further if talks are not reopened, Unison insisted.
Many of the staff involved say they are struggling to make ends meet following successive below-inflation pay awards.
Staff were given an increase of 0.6 per cent in 2021, with a further 3 per cent offered this year - what Unison says is a real-terms pay cut.
Unison official Lizanne Devonport said the workers have been left with "no other option" but to strike.
"Pay has been falling behind prices for years and 3% isn't a wage rise, with costs spiralling it's a pay cut," she said.
"Things are so bad staff are fearful they will no longer be able to make ends meet.
"Workers only strike as a last resort. They'd rather be doing the jobs that they're proud of.
"They don't want to disrupt students and know how important exam results are to them."
It came after the union signed a joint letter urging the government to take action ahead of a possible Covid surge in winter.
Addressed to Education Secretary James Cleverly, the letter said ministers must use the time during the summer break to implement a range of measures to minimise disruption and cut lost learning.
An AQA spokesperson said: "Our priority is always to make sure students get the results they deserve on time - and we have robust plans in place to make sure any strike action won't affect that.
"It's a shame that Unison is claiming otherwise, as this is wrong and only serves needlessly to alarm students and teachers.
"We're giving our people a pay rise that's affordable and higher than many organisations, so it's disappointing that Unison has decided to take strike action.
"The vast majority of our staff don't support a strike, as only around 5% of our workforce and well under half of Unison's own members voted for it.
"Indeed, nearly nine out of 10 of our staff have already opted into our new pay framework and agreed to the pay rise, including many Unison members, so it's hard to see what this strike is trying to achieve."