Monday 24 December 2012

Reinstate David Muritu

What do you call an employer that circumvents long-established disciplinary procedures and sacks the branch secretary of its recognised trade union on the last day before the seasonal break? There are many unpleasant names that spring to mind, but because it's Christmas I'll use this employer's official title: Halesowen College.

I reproduce below the statement supporting the reinstatement of UCU branch secretary, David Muritu. It is my understanding that this is just the beginning. Entirely coincidentally, of course, three more active members of the union are facing disciplinaries. This comes ahead of strike action planned in the New Year, which was unanimously endorsed by local UCU members. When that's the case, you know management must be as poor as it is bellicose.

From what I can gather, David is popular among staff and students at the college. Like a number of others, he works ridiculous hours for his students against a pretty shoddy background. I ask you, what other college makes lecturers cover two classes *at the same time*, foists non-specialists to teach certain specialised courses, and fails to provide specialist cover when there are absences?

They're hardly cash-strapped either. According to their own minutes of June's corporate meeting, they have an operating *surplus* of over £2.7m. Management's actions are plain bizarre. You can only agree with the petition statement's opening, David Muritu's sacking "is an attack on eduction and trade unionism".

Make sure you sign the petition. Solidarity messages to the branch can be sent via

Halesowen College: Reinstate David Muritu as a Maths Lecturer at the college

This is an attack on education and trades unionism. On December 20th Dave Muritu, a known local socialist trades union activist, was sacked from his position as Maths lecturer. This followed disregard of the college disciplinary procedure (no evidence was presented 3 days in advance of the hearing), without anything other than deductive reasoning (his sacking was linked to results, with no regard for competency procedure or accurate review of statistical significance (his results are above national average).

Please sign and convey your disappointment in the college failure to prioritise student needs and achievement over politics. The only logical conclusion which can be drawn from the situation is that as no substantial evidence has been produced, Dave has been sacked on grounds of disagreement with the principal on educational theory and politics. The maths department have received considerable lack of support in the face of student needs, including

1) Failure of the principal to agree specialist cover in staff absence, inspite of a substantial surplus which could fund this

2) Students in a functional lesson being encouraged by management to give up the studies their time is allocated for in order to participate in a “focus group” based around leading questions with no rigorous development or consistent recording of data

3) Victimisation of a known trades unionist, along with possible victimisation of other known activists in the maths department, setting a precedent for activists to be targeted with knock-on effects for other trades-unionists nationally.

Please sign and join us in fighting this outrageous decision collectively.


Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, the branch have passed a motion to ballot for escalating industrial action in reaction to the dismissal

Phil said...

This comment from 'studentof'10'. Slightly re-edited to avoid falling foul of litigation:

"I'm a former student of Halesowen College. This isn't even a shock, their ... teacher, ... something. Claimed to be "having a baby" four or five times over the year I was taught by him. Asked students for lifts home and constantly stank of booze. Even then, appropriate cover was never arranged for our sessions. So hearing it hasn't got any better is just horrendous. "

Unknown said...

I don't get it - does Studentof10 say about mr.Muritu or some other teacher?

Phil said...

It was about another teacher.

UCU member said...

Hi Phil,
One of the reasons why I despised the last Labour governments was their role in the way they funded and ran the public sector, in such a way as to require the services of thugs and spivs as managers. Curiously, I can't remember reading any mea culpa from ex-ministers or current supporters about this.
To take one example from your locality, the approximately 400 excess deaths which took place in a Staffordshire hospital can be traced to the desire of the managers to achieve the foundtion status dangled in front of them by Labour. Concerns about staff shortages were quietened by intimidation and when the subsequent inquiry trawled for staff witnesses, even with the promise of anonimity, only a handful of nurses felt able to give evidence such was the culture of intimidation.
In another area, when Mancat sacked the union reps (the college subsequently lost at an ET when it ried to claim there was no work for them,) when constituents tried to raise the question of the bullying and fraud at the college they were fobbed off by local Labour MPs. One of those was the candidate for Police Commissioner whom you urged us to support, Tony Lloyd. It was a Tory MP, yes a Tory, who raised this in parliament under the cover of parliamentary privilege and his exceptionally detailed knowledge of this can be found at - They WorkForYou - Richard Bacon - Mancat.
We might contrast this with the Labour MP for Stockport, Kaufman who passed over a letter to the college management from a constituent, complaining about management bullying.
In my own case, I didn't even get a reply from my Labour MP.
What this has left me with, apart from a belief in multi-member constituencies, is that the continuing silence from Labour about these scandals is that it is bound to be repeated. And, even if it were to be acknowledged, the experience of the NHS shows that such an administration can say one thing, "cooperation not competition" Tony Blair, at first suddenly turned into the introduction of market forces which required a blind eye being turned, or not-so-tacit support being given to management thuggery.

Phil said...

No, there has been no critical self-examination of the managerialism than ran riot in the public sector under Labour. Having previously come up against a particularly incompetent form of it when I was still a postgrad, it still rankles.

I'm going to write something more in-depth about the New Labour love-in with managerialism at some point in the near future. In the mean time anyone reading this comment who hasn't signed the petition above should do so.

UCU member said...

Hi Phil,
Could the old Marxist cliche be in order here?
Is it a coincidence that you haven't written about New Labour and "managerialism" despite your own experiences as you have now joined the LP?
I would bet that nothing like this ever appears on constituency agendas,branch discussions or "Education" even if appeals such as the one in your piece might be aired.
Writing about the gap between what is promised and what appears, where is the long-promised review of Goran Therborn?

Phil said...

Excuse me if I find political point scoring in the comments on a trade unionist's dismissal distasteful, especially when hiding behind an anonymous monicker.

But in response to your questions:

1) Therborn: Here

2) Labour Party educationals this last year at branch and CLP level have (off the top of my head) dealt with the crisis of working class political representation, the left and the EU, various local policy problems, rebuilding the unions, and art and Stoke-on-Trent.

3) As it happens I'll shortly be writing something on managerialism for something else, a shortened version of which may appear here.

4) When your own sect demonstrates transparent political debate and honest and public accounting for past mistakes, be sure to let us know.

Anonymous said...

Hi Phil,
1) Sorry I missed your review.

2) The only sect I have been a member of in the last thirty years has been the LP.

3) Interesting as the titles are, I don't think they cover the issue which I raised. Indeed,Labour MPs often play the proletarian card to dismiss objections as "middle class" concerns.

4) Anon is the result of caution which reflects my experience. If you have worked for a "corporation" as colleges now see themselves you will know that they do not think that the behaviour of managers should be written about in any outside forum, particularly anything critical. Tha atmosphere is sometimes like living in Stalin's Soviet Union in the 1930's.

Phil said...

I think it would be hard-pressed for my MP to "play the proletarian"!

Anon UCU menber said...

Hi Phil'
O.K that was a bit compressed. The expanded description refers to MP's from inner-city areas who dismiss the concerns of the white-collar union members over attcks on their conditions of service in such areas as "whinging" because they have a job with an income as compared to the client population. "Why should we care if the children in these areas don't do as well as children in other areas it's the fault tof lazy and/or incompetent / teachers?" "Do you think our constituents care if teachers or college lecturers have more work for proportionally less money? No!"
(Although, in my experience,I have found adult students in such areas understand the arguments about defending unions quite well.)
This is also combined with personal attacks by managers with well-known Labour loyalties on union reps who have a commitment to groups outside the LP such as the SWP.