The college workers union, UCU, have declared a dispute with Ruskin College, Oxford, and will be sending the college official notification tomorrow.
It’s a dispute that should never have happened.
John Rees writes for The People's Assembly
Dr. Lee Humber
Ruskin College is world-renowned for its links with the labour and trade union movement. Dr Lee Humber, who is at the heart of dispute, has a long and distinguished record as a trade union activist.
There should never have been a moment where the college authorities thought it was a good idea to sack Lee. Particularly since the Principal of the college has been subject to an unprecedented vote of no confidence over his management of the institution.
Anyone who looks at the recent record of decisions by the Principal and the management would be surprised if their had not been a vote of no confidence.
In the recent past the college has suffered the departure of 83 members of staff – disproportionately women members of staff – who have left as a result of the on-going chaos in the college.
On top of this has been the departure of three entire administration and recruitment teams as a result of short term contracts, stress and anger and frustration at the Principal. This has it resulted in the employment of over 30 temporary agency staff over the last two years.
To cover-up this incompetence the management have relied on agency staff and management consultants – often to cover posts that could have been covered internally – at enormous expense to the college. This includes £300,000 paid to just one agency.
The truth is that Ruskin College is in chaos because of the behaviour of the management. Lee Humber is being victimised because he has been part of union attempts to force the management to change course.
This dispute is about the quality of education in a college but has always prided itself on be able to engage and motivate working-class students. Lee Humber should’ve been congratulated for defending that tradition not sacked by a management which clearly doesn’t know what it is doing.
Every corner of the labour movement should rush support to Ruskin College UCU. One of us is under attack, and it's a college which has previously contributed so much to the working class