Lecturer who lost job says he was victimised for union activity

27th March 2009 at 00:00

A lecturer who lost his job in restructuring at Harlow College has told an employment tribunal that he believes he was victimised because of his trade union activities.

James Meadow, a history lecturer, said the news that he was to lose his job in the restructuring in 2007 came as a "thunderbolt" and a "devastating blow".

"The news appalled me. It was difficult going back into the classroom and later I broke down at home," he told Stratford employment eribunal on the first day of the hearing, which was expected to last 10 days.

Mr Meadow and Paul Hughes, a former colleague, are challenging the way dismissal procedures were handled. Although the case is being brought by just these two former employees, it has wider implications. Various claims for compensation are being made by the pair for themselves and up to 100 others.

Mr Meadows, who was placed on gardening leave, unsuccessfully appealed to the college against his dismissal.

He told the hearing: "I was part of the union team working to ensure we took steps to prevent the job losses.

"Industrial action went ahead over five days in May and June 2007. I was present on the picket line each of the five days. I was demonstrating peacefully on the picket and wanted to ensure the injustices being inflicted upon us were heard. We had widespread support across the local community and thousands signed our petitions."

Mr Meadows explained he was appraised during the dismissal process and was given the "lowest score". He said: "I was evidently being detrimentally treated because of my trade union activity."

After the hearing on Tuesday, Barry Lovejoy, head of further education at the University and College Union, said: "UCU has the firm view that the college failed to meet statutory obligations in consulting with staff on these changes.

"It was wrong for the college to move staff from lecturer to tutor grades without proper consultation on how this change of role would be implemented. Many faced inferior terms of service as a result.

"We are pursuing a protective award on behalf of members. UCU reserves the right to challenge this type of behaviour."

The hearing continues.

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