Workers at Sandwell College will begin a strike ballot this week in the campaign to defend sacked UCU union rep Dave Muritu.
Bosses sacked Dave after he wrote the word “racist” on a Prevent poster. Prevent is a racist government strategy that encourages institutions to treat all Muslims as potential terrorists.
Dave told Socialist Worker that the sacking followed a number of victories won by the union branch at the college.
Nearly 7,000 people have signed a petition demanding Dave’s reinstatement.
A national protest was set to take place in West Bromwich on Saturday of this week.
“We need people to keep sending messages of support and signing the petition,” said Dave.
Liz Lawrence, UCU past president, agreed. “We need to get 15,000, 20,000 signatures,” she told a rally to defend Dave earlier this month. “And it’s even more important we have industrial action.
“We’ve been making some gains in further education and that’s upsetting the employers. Dave may not be the only one who gets put in the frame.
“The best way of protecting people is taking industrial action.” Dave is right to oppose Prevent, which is opposed by the UCU nationally along with several other trade unions.
As Dave told the rally, “Prevent has no place in our classrooms. It turns us into spies. It means that Muslims are marginalised.”
He also stressed that the fight at Sandwell matters for workers everywhere. “We have stood up for ourselves,” he said. “We are a force to be reckoned with.
“If they take me out, they may take more people out and crush this branch. We’re not going to let that happen.”
A big meeting of Sandwell College UCU branch re-elected Dave as their branch secretary last week. Dave said it was a “clear message to management that the branch will not stand for victimisation”.Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and shadow labour minister Laura Pidcock have also sent solidarity messages with the campaign.
UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said the college’s treatment of Dave was “heavy-handed” and “completely out of line.
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,” he said.
The ballot will begin on Friday of this week and ends on 12 July.
What you can do
- Protest to demand the reinstatement of Dave Muritu—Sat 22 June, assemble 12.30pm, West Bromwich campus of Sandwell College, Spon Lane, West Bromwich B70 6AW
- Sign the petition to support Dave
- Send messages of support to UCU branch chair Dom at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send messages of protest to college principal Graham Pennington at email@example.com