A row at Sandwell College over the “heavy-handed” sacking of a lecturer has escalated with staff being asked to back strike action.

The strike ballot will open on Friday 21 June and close on Friday 12 July. The row centres on the sacking of maths lecturer Dave Muritu for writing on a poster promoting the controversial Prevent programme. Although Muritu admitted to the incident and apologised for his actions, the college dismissed him at the end of May.

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.

Almost 7,000 people have signed a petition calling for Muritu’s reinstatement, while shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and shadow labour minister Laura Pidcock have also shown their support for the campaign.

Muritu is currently appealing the college’s decision, but UCU said the college’s refusal to budge from its hardline position had left his colleagues with no option but to ballot for action.

On Saturday 22 June, there will be a march and rally calling for Muritu’s reinstatement. The march will start at 12.30pm outside the West Bromwich campus on Spon Lane

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UCU acting general secretary, Paul Cottrell, said:

‘The heavy-handed response to Dave’s actions by Sandwell College was completely out of line and the widespread condemnation from staff, students and politicians is no surprise.

‘By the college’s own admission, Dave’s actions didn’t bring the college into disrepute, so it appears that he is being singled out for his trade union activities. The fact the college refuses to budge from its hardline position has left staff with no option but to ballot for strike action.’


Union calls for reinstatement of sacked Sandwell College activist 

Sandwell College has been accused of losing all sense of proportion over the dismissal of a lecturer, and warned it could 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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