Strike action in higher education

UCU calls for reinstatement of sacked Sandwell College activist

4 June 2019

Sandwell College has been accused of losing all sense of proportion over the dismissal of a lecturer, and warned it will face industrial action if the decision is not reversed.

The college sacked Dave Muritu for gross misconduct on Wednesday. Muritu had written on a poster promoting the controversial Prevent programme.

Muritu admitted to drawing on the poster and apologised for his actions but, although the college acknowledged that his actions didn't bring the institution into disrepute, he was summarily dismissed last week.

The University and College Union (UCU) said such a heavy-handed and disproportionate response from the college had to be down to Muritu's trade union activities. Muritu is the local branch secretary of UCU, and played a key role in negotiating a landmark pay deal for staff last year.

The Prevent duty has been widely criticised by trade unions, the National Union of Students and faith groups, and will shortly be subject to an independent review.

UCU has launched a petition calling on Sandwell College to reinstate Muritu, and warned that industrial action could be on the cards if he is not reinstated.

UCU acting general secretary, Paul Cottrell, said: 'The college has lost all sense of proportion in dealing with Mr Muritu's case. The incident was clearly a moment of frustration for which he has apologised, but the college has refused to budge from its hardline position.

'The college has acknowledged that his actions didn't bring the college into disrepute, so it seems this incident is being used as an excuse to attack Mr Muritu for his trade union activities. We will not simply stand by and allow this to happen, and the college should be prepared to face industrial action if the decision is not swiftly reversed.'

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