In a frontal attack on workers’ struggle, bosses at City of Liverpool College have sacked Nina Doran, the college’s longest-serving UCU union rep of 15 years. Nina has worked at the college for 30 years, first as an English Lecturer and later as a Teacher Educator.
She told Socialist Worker that her dismissal is not the first time college bosses have tried to get rid of trade union activists. “I’m the Liaison Committee secretary and branch rep and was the chief negotiator on pay until my dismissal. I’m also the fourth union rep they’ve sacked in eight years.”
“All of us were targeted because we were effective as union reps. We agitated and challenged what was going on at the college.”
Six months ago Nina was suspended as a union rep, and last Friday, management dismissed her. Nina believes her role as a whistleblower was the trigger for the bosses to remove her, leading to her suspension for six months.
But this suspension also came at a critical time. In September last year UCU members at the college struck for six days. Nina said the action was “unprecedented”—and management suspended her just one week before the first strike took place.
“The bosses knew that without me agitating, they could more easily divide the workers and potentially scare them against supporting the action,” said Nina.
Nina also says that the employer tries to break union activity in other ways. “ Structures that help the UCU support teachers have steadily been dismantled at the college.
“Our ability to have proper physical in-work time mass meetings across the five college sites has been removed, and teachers and UCU representatives can no longer sit on the Board of Governors,” said Nina.
“Our facilities time—time off for union duties—has been cut and the ability to represent members while balancing a huge workload of teaching has become very difficult. This is not accidental. I believe it’s calculated,” she argued.
Nina insists that the workplace has changed dramatically in the last ten years due to the new leadership pushing to marketise education.
“Our college has turned from having a community ethos to a business one. It’s a neoliberal joy. I think pushing me out will give the employer more of an opportunity to go ahead with their plans,” she said.
But despite the bosses’ moves, Nina says union activity is still strong in the college. “We’ve still got a very good union density at the college, and the support I have received since my dismissal has been great. The UCU Further Education Committee has unanimously carried a motion of support already,” she said.
The college UCU branch says, “Activists work tirelessly to protect members from malpractice by their employers, and will continue to do so. We will continue to fight against victimisation and will continue supporting Nina in any way we can. An attack on one is an attack on all.”
Nina’s sacking is an attack on workers’ right to organise, to challenge their employer, and hold them accountable.
Trade unionists should send support to Nina and her colleagues as they campaign for her full reinstatement.
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