Socialist Worker

Defend Penny Gower

by Ian Hood
Issue No. 2174

Members of the EIS teaching union and the UCU lecturers’ union turned out at the Employment Tribunal offices in Edinburgh to demonstrate their support for victimised safety rep, Penny Gower.

Penny was summarily dismissed after 34 years working as a lecturer for carrying out a safety inspection at Carnegie College, Dunfermline. This was at a time when she had no classes at Edinburgh prison, where she taught.

She was also given no right to appeal by her employer.

Representatives from ten further education colleges and four universities brought banners and placards reading “Carnegie shame on you” and “Hands off our safety rep!”

As part of the safety inspection, Penny asked one lecturer if there was any bullying at that campus.

In a statement for the disciplinary, the lecturer himself described Penny’s behaviour only as friendly. He had made no complaint.

Yet the principal decided that Penny had breached the staff code of conduct by being “disrespectful” to the lecturer by asking that question.

Anger at the disgraceful sacking of this well-known trade unionist has spread far beyond the ranks of her own union, which is backing her to the hilt.

Messages of protest have arrived from workplaces and unions all over the country.

An 18-day tribunal is scheduled to finish on 22 December. The next dates for the hearing are on 26, 27 and 30 October, and supporters are very welcome.

Go to » for more details and a transcript of the disciplinary. Send messages of protest to the college management, [email protected], copied to the EIS branch secretary [email protected] and [email protected]

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Article information

Tue 20 Oct 2009, 19:31 BST
Issue No. 2174
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