Community turns out in force for the Halesowen 4

Community turns out in force for the Halesowen 4

On Saturday 26th January over 200 people took to the streets of Halesowen to demand the reinstatement of four members of the Maths department who had been sacked. On a cold day, with snow on the ground, there was a fantastic array of banners and placards showing how far people had come to express solidarity with the Halesowen 4.

Music and speeches made for a carnival atmosphere as trade unionists, educators, students and members of the local community assembled outside the gates of Halesowen College.

The reason that these sackings have caught so many peoples’ attention was highlighted in many of the speeches. Educators realize that if these unprecedented dismissals, based solely on student outcomes, are allowed to go unchallenged then no teacher is safe. Any college, school or university can ignore local and national agreements and tear up contracts because they can apply any arbitrary measure to isolated sets of student results, ignoring other outcomes that may not suit their purpose, in order to justify sacking staff. This notion of sacking at will is not only a very real fear in education but across all areas of working life and that is why there were so many different unions on the march showing their support. UCU, NUT, Unison, NASUWT and PCS along with Dudley, Wolverhampton , Shropshire and Telford Trades Councils are just a selection of those who attended that I can remember.

We now have to wait for the result of the UCU ballot for industrial action within the college, due out on Monday 28 January. I hope that my colleagues have found the courage that they have shown me so often in the past to stand up to the bullying management at the college. If the result is for action then they can be confident that they will have the support of the union nationally and from the wider labour movement.

article from Justice for Halesowen4

Video report of the march by Union News

Loads more pics and video on the Facebook page

For background information see here

Posted By

Jason Cortez
Jan 27 2013 20:40

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Choccy
Jan 27 2013 22:39

Brilliant turn out and shameful of the BBC to say it was 30 - look at the length in that picture above alone!
This really could be any of us, particularly in education, so it was great to see so much solidarity with the Halesowen 4.
An injury to one is an injury to all!

Jason Cortez
Feb 8 2013 13:42

Strike action and Valentine's Day protests at Halesowen College

Members of UCU at Halesowen College will take strike action next Thursday (Valentine's Day) as part of their increasingly bitter dispute over the sacking of four maths lecturers.

Despite their being no love lost between the college and the union, UCU will use the day to deliver a giant Valentine's Day card with more than 12,000 (at present) signatures calling for the sacked lecturers to be reinstated. The petition and latest number signatures can be found at http://tinyurl.com/Halesowen4

Quote:
Traditionally, Valentine's Day cards are supposed to be anonymous, but the thousands of people who have signed our card to the college are keen their names are heard in the fight against these unjust sackings.'

The row started with the dismissal of maths lecturer and UCU branch chair Dave Muritu days before Christmas. Since then three other maths lecturers (also active union members) have been sacked and lost their appeals three of them this week.. In last week's strike ballot, three-quarters (75%) of UCU members who voted backed the call for strike action.

Other complaints the union has made about the college's performance include:
groups being pushed together, even though they were supposed to be studying different material
lecturers expected to teach two different classes in two different rooms at the same time
non-specialist staff regularly covering maths sessions
refusal to pay for specialist cover (in spite of a huge surplus) for long-term sickness
failure to provide teaching for students in the run-up to exams

:

UCU regional official, Nick Varney, wrote:
'Staff at Halesowen will be on strike next week because of the way the college has dismissed staff. It simply cannot treat people like this and use them to mask its own failings.

'At all the appeals the employer did not have enough evidence against the individuals to dismiss them and used students' failure to achieve certain levels of attainment as the basis for sacking them. Not only is this unfair, but it threatens all lecturers' jobs at the college.

'

Jason Cortez
Feb 11 2013 08:54

Halesowen UCU have returned a ballot overwhelmingly calling for strike action and action short of a strike. This will begin with an initial day of strike action on Thursday 14th February. We will be picketing from 7am, with a breakfast meeting planned for 10am at the Wagon and Horses, Stourbridge Road. We have been overwhelmed with messages of support and queries as to how people can get involved: here is a list of ideas:

Love hearts: UCU campaigns have produced a valentine card design which can be used in branches or groups, or you can make your own heart designs (e.g. “*Branch* <3 Halesowen UCU" or "We <3 the Halesowen 4"). You can then take photos of members with these which can be emailed to halesowenUCU_branch_secretary@hotmail.com, tweeted to @halesowencoll and @halesowenUCU with #lovetheHalesowen4 and shared in the facebook group http://www.facebook.com/groups/justiceforhalesowenfour/

Cookies and cakes: Newman UCU, one of our local sister branches, have come up with the idea of selling cakes. You could make cakes or cookies to sell in branch with UCU and a 4 iced on, possibly heart shapes? (depending on icing skills!)

Stalls: Again an idea from Newman UCU, they will be setting up a stall for their cakes with info about the case (see attached) with a laptop on the petition encouraging people to sign: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/halesowen-college-reinstate-david-muritu-as-a-maths-lecturer-at-the-college

Video: This video can be shown in branch or other meetings to give more information http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=6433 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zW4BjGPyDjM&feature=player_embedded

Video support messages: We were really grateful to receive a video support message last time, and thought this was something that could be done again, perhaps members holding up the love heart material to give personal messages or a branch message

Collections: Any collections in branch or other donations will be really really gratefully received. Please make donations payable to: Halesowen College UCU Branch
You can use the following to pay electronically:
Sort Code: 08-60-01
Account Number 33024684

Or send cheques (made out to Halesowen College UCU Branch) to:
Justice for Halesowen 4 Campaign.
111 Chichester Drive,
Quinton,
Birmingham.
B32 1BD

Thank you so much!

Lots of love from Halesowen UCU

http://justiceforhalesowenfour.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/strike-action-planned-for-valentines-day-how-to-show-your-love/

Chilli Sauce
Feb 11 2013 09:39

So it does actually seem like this is a union branch capable of organising a strike.

Do we know if there's a history of strike action in the branch? Does much initiative come from the rank-and-file or is it a just a dedicated group of lay/local reps? How about the other unions on campus? I can presume members are instructed to go to work, but have there been individual and/or collective refusals to cross picket lines?

I mean, Jesus, when I think about some of the UNISON branches I've been in. A bake sale?! Whoa there buddy, let's not get loco...