Halesowen college staff vote for strike action in ballot

First published in News

INDUSTRIAL action now looks inevitable after University and College Union (UCU) members overwhelmingly voted in favour of strike action this week.

The vote opens the door to students being hit by walkouts, class disruption and an all out strike by lecturers and staff, all of which has been sparked by the sacking of “the Halesowen Four.”

Dismissed maths lecturer David Muritu’s appeal was thrown out by the college on Thursday and Jason White, Sarabjit Ahluwalia-Timmins and Rachel Griew have theirs next week.

The UCU announced it has raised thousands of pounds for the dispute as the Halesowen Four have cause célèbre for the union movement across the country.

A spokesman for Halesowen UCU branch said: “There was a strong vote in favour of strike action and action short of a strike and we are planning action. The college management have refused offers for negotiation arrangements from both the UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, who has personally been in touch, and ACAS, the independent employment reconciliation body.”

Staff morale appears to be at an all time low with the News receiving an anonymous letter accusing management of acting like the Third Reich and Joseph Stalin.

The letter accuses management of spying on the staff, using strong arm tactics to bully lecturers and bemoans the “unpleasant moral atmosphere” at the college.

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris demanded standards do not drop at the college after this week’s A-level league tables revealed a dip for the second year running.

He said: “Ensuring students receive the best possible quality teaching must be the first priority.”

Trade unionists descended on the Whittingham Road campus on Saturday for a protest and march causing disruption to an open day.

The UCU spokesman said: “The branch were elated to see such a surge of support from over 100 trades unionists and other supporters nationwide in the fight against this attack on workers rights.”

The college released an unprecedented statement blasting Mr Muritu’s record chronicling a seven year battle to improve his teaching.

Personnel manager Rachel Mackinson said: “David Muritu was dismissed for his consistent failure to carry out the fundamental part of the job as a lecturer in the maths department, which is to ensure that students fulfil their potential and achieve their expected levels of attainment.

“The college had provided intensive support in various ways over a period of three years, engaging consultant and subject specialists.

“However,David Muritu had failed to make any improvement in student attainment, and indeed the pass rate declined further over the period.

“The college is patient and understanding in improving lecturers’ performance in accordance with good employment practice.“

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