1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Union withdrawing support

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by squashua, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. squashua

    squashua Occasional commenter

    Hi, I have a long-running battle with my Headteacher. Union have advised appealing, grievance and then tribunal for months. I have followed all advice and they consistently advised that he was behaving unlawfully and discriminating against me. I have finally exhausted all appeals and put in a grievance and yesterday my local rep emailed to state it had no chance of success and that they were considering withdrawing support.

    I have been unimpressed by the local rep and she's kept saying she'll escalate it to regional level and hasn't. I've tried ringing regional myself but they kept passing me back to her. So I had backup: a solicitor through my house insurance. I'm waiting for the final decision about whether to proceed with a tribunal or not but, in the meantime, the grievance process is all I have. How can I convince the union to stick with what they've been advising me for months, and has anyone else been in this bizarre position? My school rep has been amazing and she's furious with local rep for being so **** and uncontactable throughout, and for now doing a huge turnaround from all the advice given in emails throughout.
  2. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    You have the right to seek support at regional level. Insist that you are not passed back to the local rep. You are paying subs each month with the expectation of union support when you need it. I assume you have been given a copy of the school's grievance procedure policy and have checked that they are following it correctly?
  3. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    If you have a solicitor, the union may decide to withdraw support.
  4. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    If you have had to instruct a solicitor because your union was not on the ball, you have several options.

    You can indeed go higher in the union and invite them to engage, given the opinion of the solicitor, if it is favourable. Some people have had successmobilising their MPs to kick the union's butt.

    You could continue with the solicitor and then, if the case is successful, use the insurance again to recover your losses from the union - which would amount to a refund of your subscriptions, since you cannot be compensated for the damage twice.

    See the case of Joanne Sherry, who successfully sued NUT in such circumstances:


    I had a similar situation, in which my union wished to suggest that they could not assist.

    First I sought a second opinion from a lawyer expert in the field who advised the union about the way to prepare the case and both of us on the merits of the case.

    Then the union ignored the expert's advice and prepared a personal injury claim badly. They sought an opinion on the merits of the case from a QC, without preparing the paperwork in any way before sending it to him. Understandably, the QC said that he could not give an opinion. The QC, BTW, was also an expert in commercial property and not workplace harassment (you couldn't make this up!).

    The union chose to interpret this as that there were no chances of success in the case and attempted to withdraw its support. I instructed a second QC, recognised as the expert in the field of workplace bullying, to review the first QCs opinion and the union's preparation of the case before it was sent to him. She reviewed the case differently and, as politely and courteously as lawyers do, laid into the union for their preparation of the case.

    The union came back on board with support and the case is shortly going to court. I would have gone after the union for negligence, however, if it had failed to do so.
    Stormy861 likes this.
  5. olderandwiser

    olderandwiser Occasional commenter

    last time I looked, you had to agree not to use any outside legal advice if you wanted the Union to take up your cause, and you probably signed a piece of paper to that effect. If you tell them you have consulted a solicitor, they will probably withdraw all support immediately. And beware of solicitors.

    Could it be that they get paid whatever the outcome of any proceedings, and it is in their interests to nudge you subtly to take action?

    I despair of the Unions though. When I left teaching a few years ago, I couldn't believe the number of teachers who were being made redundant, put into capability and generally pushed out, and all NASUWT wanted to do was get the teacher to go quietly with compromise agreements. They have lost their way totally and forgotten how to fight, and that fighting a few cases to the bitter end with lots of publicity sends a clear message to Heads to tread carefully in future.
  6. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Quite honestly we're hearing more and more about issues with unions?. I'm a former regional rep and I think they have just reached a point of being over loaded and somewhat disempowered. EDAPT represent individual teachers through their subscription and offer excellent legal support - I thorough recommend looking at them as an alternative option.
  7. old_dobbin

    old_dobbin Occasional commenter

    Sadly, it sounds as if you are facing an uphill battle. Many years ago the union refused to provide me with legal support and representation when I was being pushed out of my employment. I took the somewhat bizarre action of paying a solicitor to threaten to take action against my union : fortunately it worked and the union did provide me with legal representation at a tribunal- and at least I kept my job. Teachers mistakenly believe that by paying their union subs they will be provided with legal representation when they need it but in my experience that quite rarely happens because of the prohibitive costs involved.

    Often on these forums I've seen posts recommending people check their household insurance policies to see whether they can claim for legal representation in employment disputes. These add on policies are quite cheap but in my experience, when you try to use them, even for household claims, it's not as easy as you may think Even if your claim is deemed to be worth looking at , the solicitor it is passed on to will often apply the principle of "proportionality", even if your claim has over a 50% chance of success. This means that the amount of your potential claim is balanced against the legal costs of pursuing it.
  8. squashua

    squashua Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the replies. The union don't know that I have a solicitor, for that very reason that I wanted to retain the option of union support. If I follow their current advice to withdraw my grievance and not pursue tribunal until mediation in September, I will be out of the 3 month tribunal limit. Very poor advice.

    I have heard of EDAPT but presume that I won't be eligible to join any other union or organisation as I have a 'pre-existing' issues.

    GLS, I spoke to the regional office today and they advised me to put my complaint in an email, which I will. It's good to hear that they can be persuaded.

    I am happy that I have good enough insurance to get a solicitor. I am NOT happy that I have had to. I have paid thousands of pounds in subs, gone on strike every time in support of my union, followed all advice given - and then they're dropping me. What's the point?
  9. squashua

    squashua Occasional commenter

    Have emailed a query regarding the U-turn in advice to regional secretary. Chances of hearing back...? Do they take summer holidays at regional level?
  10. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I have paid thousands of pounds in subs

    Heck! How long have you been teaching!!!?
  11. squashua

    squashua Occasional commenter

    Well, it's about 18 quid a month, isn't it? For 12 months a year, for 13 years. It's not thousands and thousands, but it's a couple of thousand. None of which I've made any claim on, until now.
  12. knitone

    knitone Lead commenter

    Thank you Daisyslot. I had not heard of EDAPT, but after reading your reply on this thread, I had a look at their site. As a result, I have cancelled my membership to the NUT and joined EDAPT. (I also cancelled another direct debit that I have been meaning to, and so, all in all, this has been a productive morning!)
  13. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    Good work :)

    Damn? I'm sure if you'd mentioned me I'd get some sort of commission :p
  14. squashua

    squashua Occasional commenter

    Just wanted to update this to say that I finally got through to regional secretary who has sorted it all out. Local rep weak link. Regional now fully on board. She was very helpful. So tribunal claim will proceed with my solicitor but also union support. Did offer to legal assessment of case but I then explained I'd had to sort legal advice myself as union were doing nothing. Happy with outcome. She was great; I just wish I'd spoken to her months ago instead of trusting local rep!
    Stormy861 likes this.
  15. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Glad to hear that you will also get both legal and union support. It does make a difference.
  16. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    Glad you are getting sorted out.

    Re paying lots of money in union subs for no return, I read this on the Pay and Conditions forum where people are claiming tax relief on them, not something I have tried but will now give it a go. I checked the gov website and you can go back to 2011 and there is a list of organisations that are covered. The form to complete seems to be P87.

    Here is the link to the TES page:

  17. azzie

    azzie New commenter

    I withdrew my suport from the Union and employed a solicitor, best money I ever spent and he suggested I took action against the union for derelictionof duty. I haven't but it made me feel better :)

Share This Page