Protesters marched through West Bromwich, in the West Midlands, last Saturday to demand the reinstatement of UCU rep Dave Muritu.
Trade unionists came from across Britain to join the demonstration, including from several London colleges, Leeds university and Birmingham university.
Bosses at Sandwell College sacked Dave in May after he wrote the word “racist” on a Prevent poster. Prevent is the Islamophobic government strategy that treats all Muslims as potential terrorists.
More than 7,000 people have signed a petition demanding his reinstatement.
Protesters chanted, “Sandwell college hear us say —Dave Muritu here to stay!”
Newly elected UCU general secretary Jo Grady spoke at a rally after Saturday’s march.
She said, “If we don’t stand for dedicated union reps and anti-racist campaigners like Dave, we’re giving up on our colleagues and students.”
UCU national executive committee member Rhiannon Lockley said Dave’s victimisation was linked to broader issues in education. “Senior managers don’t want our colleges to be about helping people up because that’s not the agenda for education,” she told the crowd.
“The agenda is not about black people or working class people having a voice.”
Dave paid tribute to the UCU branch at Sandwell College, which has begun a ballot for strikes to demand his reinstatement.
He went on to say that Prevent destroys trust between students and lecturers, turning lecturers “into spies”. He is right to oppose it.
If Sandwell College bosses get away with their attack on Dave, it will be a serious blow to anti-racists and union members everywhere.
Every trade unionist should get behind the campaign to reinstate him.
UCU union members at Bradford College plan a three-day strike from Wednesday 3 July.
Union members voted by 94 percent for strikes to save jobs, and by 86 percent to win higher pay.
Bosses have threatened to slash 131 jobs. And workers have had just one 1 percent pay rise in the last 11 years.
UCU members at the West Yorkshire college have struck for seven days this year over pay.
The action was part of a wider fight by the union involving several colleges that has seen some victories.
Bosses at Lambeth College in south London agreed a better pay deal following several days of strikes by UCU members there. And workers at Capital City College Group won a 5 percent pay rise after eight days of strikes.
Over 150 college workers and their supporters joined a protest over new contracts in Nottingham last Thursday.
It was a prelude to the first strike by UCU members at Nottingham College, due to take place on Monday of next week.
Lecturers were given support by their students, some of whom spoke despite being told not to attend.
Local Labour MP Alex Norris, two local Labour councillors, the NEU union and trades council sent their support.
500 people rallied in London
Another sign of establishment crisis
Support this crucial fight
His treatment exposes the British state