'Effective' teaching union representative 'unlawfully' suspended, says union

'Effective' teaching union representative 'unlawfully' suspended, says union

'Effective' teaching union representative 'unlawfully' suspended, says union

First published in News
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Haringey Independent: Photograph of the Author by

A National Union of Teachers (NUT) representative has been “unlawfully” suspended by Haringey Council, say union officials.

Julie Davies, who has been an elected union representative for more than a decade, has been suspended by the council for “gross misconduct”.

When giving reasons for the suspension the council reportedly referred to a critical email sent by Ms Davies to a councillor, and cited the re-tweeting by Ms Davies of a newspaper article criticising former mayor Sheila Peacock.

The council also said it had received complaints from head teachers regarding Ms Davies.

The terms of Ms Davies's employment are unclear. As an elected representative, Ms Davies effectively remains a teacher at Northumberland Park School, however, she is paid from a council fund that is collected from school contributions.

The fund, known as facilities time, effectively enables a full-time representative to be free to perform union duties without costing any one particular school disproportionately.

The borough’s secondary schools, which are required by law to provide a paid union representative to their staff, now say they will not continue to pay into the fund unless the NUT elects a different representative.

Ms Davies, who lives in the St Ann’s ward, reportedly emailed her ward councillor, Councillor Barbara Blake, to complain about her bins not being collected.

She then sent a second email to Cllr Blake referring to the controversy surrounding her selection as a Labour candidate in September 2013.

The selection process in the St Ann’s ward was subject to accusations that votes for prospective candidates were swung by “illegal” party members who had no right to vote.

The London Labour Group investigated the incident in 2013 following complaints, and held that “the selection was safe and run in accordance with Labour Party rules.”

Among the complainant head-teachers are Patrick Crozier, of Highgate Wood School, and Helen Anthony, of Fortismere School.

Helen Anthony declined to comment on the matter. She has previously faced strike action from NUT members at her school following allegations of “bullying”.

Patrick Crozier has not responded to the newspaper’s request for a comment.

Bob Stapley, London Regional NUT Officer, said the union strongly felt that the council could not claim that Ms Davies was a council employee.

He said: “The suspension is unlawful, we don’t think the council has the right to suspend her.

“Of the allegations made against Julie, the first two are completely unrelated to her profession. She complained to a councillor in her capacity as a resident.

“The other allegations basically amount to the fact that some head teachers don’t like that she is our representative. Management often don’t like good and effective union reps.

“With regards to the schools’ threatened refusal to pay into facilities time -- schools are legally required to provide our reps with paid time off from their duties to be a rep.

“If the schools want to have another way of doing it than collectively paying into a fund, that’s up to them.

“What they will absolutely not do is change who we choose to represent us, and that’s what they would like to do. They want a tame union, and they will not get that.”

Haringey Council has previously confirmed that it is a legal requirement to “give appropriate staff time off for union work.”

In 2012, a council spokesman said:  “It is more efficient to negotiate with a rep than thousands of teachers, which would be more expensive."

On the suspension of Julie Davies, a Haringey Council spokesman said: “We do not comment on matters involving individual staff members.”

Julie Davies was unable to comment while suspended.

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