THE dispute between unions and Halesowen College concerning of the sacking of four lecturers has been ratcheted up this week.

This week University and College Union members voted unanimously to ballot for strike action and rally is being held outside the college today to coincide with sacked lecturer’s David Muritu appeal hearing.

On Saturday, a national protest which will see union members from across the country descend on Whittingham campus will coincide with an open day for prospective new students and a governors meeting.

Demonstrators will assemble from 9.30am and at 10.45am there will be a march to Halesowentown centre and back to the college at around 11.30am, where speakers including the UCU’s national head of further education Barry Lovejoy will speak.

Mr Lovejoy said: “As every teacher knows, student attainment is affected by many factors besides teaching, such as prior educational experience, home background, the ability and motivation of the students, and the general educational environment and support provided by the college.

“At a time when colleges and universities are piling on the pressure, through increased workloads and performance management, the arbitrary and improper dismissal of teaching staff for the underachievement of students sets a worrying precedent.”

He added: “Halesowen College seems determined to pick fights with us at every turn. While it sacks union members and threatens others, its standing within educational circuits continues to plummet.

“It is difficult not to see this as an attack on trade union members, rather than anything that resembles fairness.”

Halesowen College refutes complaints concerning the sacking of the four lecturers and have stated they were fired due to the continued underperformance of the maths department.

The college is showcasing two free bus routes, from Wolverhampton and Kings Norton, to the campus at the open days.

Principal Keith Bate said: “Our Open Day in November was extremely busy and we are expecting the same for January.

These days give potential students the opportunity to see our excellent facilities,new initiatives and find out more about our wide range of courses.”

Halesowen College open day runs at the Whittingham Road site from 10am until 4pm.