Thousands of exam appeals to be delayed due to SQA strike action

Strike action is being taken by SQA union members following no breakthrough in pay talks.

Thousands of SQA exam appeals to be delayed as Unite the Union members take strike action iStock

Tens of thousands of exam appeals are to be delayed as Unite the Union confirmed Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) staff will begin strike action on Thursday.

The union said that it has been engaged in talks involving SQA management over a pay dispute through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) since previously announcing strike action dates, but there has been no breakthrough.

Unite rejected a new pay offer tabled by the SQA as it said for the lowest pay grades it represents “a significant real terms pay cut” as the broader measure of inflation (RPI) has now soared to hit a 40-year high at 12.3%.

The SQA’s tabling of the latest offer ahead of industrial action on September 8 has been criticised by the union as a “cynical publicity stunt”.

Three days of previously announced strike action at the SQA on September 8, 15 and 16 will go ahead.

The trade union has also confirmed a further six days of strike action on September 22, 23, 26, 29, 30 and October 3.

An overtime ban and ban on accrual of time off in lieu will also be in effect from September to November 30.

It is estimated that around 55,000 standard exam result appeals will be “severely delayed” due to the industrial action.

According to the SQA’s figures this is up from the 22,000 previously estimated. The results are scheduled to be issued to schools, colleges and training providers by the end of October 2022.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s SQA members are set to take different forms of industrial action due to a pay offer which still represents a substantial real terms pay cut for the lowest paid. It is completely unacceptable and we will stand up for our members’ jobs, pay and conditions at the SQA because they deserve better.”

The union previously rejected a “derisory” pay offer in July which was worth between 1.7% to 4% depending on the job grading for SQA workers.   

The SQA confirmed the results of priority appeals – if a college or university place or a training or employment offer depends on a grade – to UCAS on Tuesday.

Alison MacLean, Unite industrial officer, added: “Industrial action will go ahead at the SQA and it will continue until a fair pay offer is on the table. This will severely disrupt up to 55,000 student appeals. Talks through Acas have barely moved us forward one inch. The reason for this is because the SQA have in effect been prevented from tabling an improved offer by the Scottish Government due to the various public sector pay disputes. 

“The last minute offer is nothing but a cynical publicity stunt designed to blame the workers who have no option but to take industrial action due to the procrastination displayed by both the SQA and Scottish Government.”

The SQA has been contacted for comment.

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