Lecturers at West Midlands college scheduled to strike over dismissal of four maths lecturers

Tim Lezard

Dave-Muritu-Halesowen-bannerLecturers from a West Midlands college at the centre of a two-month dispute over the dismissal of four maths lecturers are scheduled to take part in strike action next week.

(Pictured: UCU and other unions join mass lobby of governors at Halesowen College, 26 January)

UCU officials say they will also use the day to deliver a giant Valentine’s Day card to Halesowen College containing more than 12,000 signatures calling for the sacked lecturers to be reinstated.

The row started with the dismissal of maths lecturer and UCU branch chair Dave Muritu last December.

Since then three other maths lecturers (also active union members) have been sacked and lost their appeals.

UCU says all four lecturers had good records.

However, college management says the four were dismissed because their students failed to reach certain attainment levels.

Supporters of the lecturers say the college had failed to provide sufficient staff and resources to the mathematics department over a long period.

UCU officials say other complaints about the college’s performance include:

·         Groups being pushed together, even though they were supposed to be studying different material

·         Lecturers expected to teach two different classes in two different rooms at the same time

·         Non-specialist staff regularly covering maths sessions

·         Refusal to pay for specialist cover (in spite of a huge surplus) for long-term sickness

·         Failure to provide teaching for students in the run-up to exams

UCU regional official, Nick Varney, said: “Staff at Halesowen will be on strike next week because of the way the college has dismissed staff. It simply cannot treat people like this and use them to mask its own failings.

“At all the appeals the employer did not enough evidence against the individuals to dismiss them and used students’ failure to achieve certain levels of attainment as the basis for sacking them.

“Not only is this unfair, but it threatens all lecturers’ jobs at the college.

“Traditionally, Valentine’s Day cards are supposed to be anonymous, but the thousands of people who have signed our card to the college are keen their names are heard in the fight against these unjust sackings.”

You can watch our film report on the dispute here:

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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