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Strike ballot at Sandwell College as row over sacked UCU activist escalates

14 June 2019 | last updated: 21 June 2019

A row at Sandwell College over the "heavy-handed" sacking of UCU activist Dave Muritu 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 the maths lecturer for writing on a poster promoting the controversial Prevent programme. Although Dave admitted to the incident and apologised for his actions, the college dismissed him at the end of May.

UCU said such a heavy-handed and disproportionate response from the college had to be down to Dave's trade union activities. Dave 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 his reinstatement, while shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and shadow labour minister Laura Pidcock have also shown their support for the campaign.

Dave 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 Dave's reinstatement. The march will start at 12.30pm outside the West Bromwich campus on Spon Lane.

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.'

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