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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 April 2007

No victimisation - support Deeside college lecturers

TOWARDS THE end of 2006, the University and College Union (UCU) rejected a pay offer from the Welsh employers' organisation Fforwm, declared a dispute and began to ballot for strike action.

Andrew Price, lay negotiator, UCU Further Education Wales

A little later Bernice Waugh, one of the union's three lay negotiators was declared compulsorily redundant from her post in the Welsh College of Horticulture.

Shortly after this in Deeside College another lay negotiator, Craig Lewis, saw his remission time from teaching to be a negotiator removed. In January, as the third lay negotiator, I was threatened with redundancy and the loss of my remission time.

In my own case a negotiated settlement protecting both my job and my remission time in Coleg Glan Hafren Cardiff was reached last week.

In Deeside the principal compounded his victimisation of Craig Lewis by sacking Pete Jones, a candidate in the recent UCU general secretary election in the middle of the campaign!

When Deeside branch produced a newsletter condemning victimisation, the principal was mortally offended and demanded its withdrawal and an apology.

When the branch told him exactly what to do with those requests he took steps amounting to the virtual derecognition of the union in the college.

Following the refusal of the branch officers to sign a document retracting perfectly true statements accepted as such by UCU members in the college, Deeside branch is now balloting for a programme of strike action and action short of a strike.

The actions of the principal of Deeside College are a total disgrace, typical of the management thuggery introduced into FE by arrangements initiated by the Tories but preserved by New Labour.

They threaten every UCU member, whether employed in an FE College or a university. Our members in Deeside must win this dispute. Theirs would not just be a victory for all workers in post-school education, but for workers everywhere.

Post script. On Saturday 21 April, UCU Wales conference unanimously passed a motion condemning Deeside management and supporting our members.

The conference also unanimously re-elected Craig Lewis, Andrew Price and Bernice Waugh as lay negotiators.

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