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Useless NEU

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by banoffeepie11, Nov 3, 2019.


Do you feel that you received poor advice and/or support from the union when you needed their help?

  1. No, I have not needed union help.

  2. No, they have helped me when I've needed them.

  3. Yes, a little but it worked out for me in the end.

  4. Yes, definitely, I didn't feel supported.

  5. Yes, it actually felt like they were not supporting enough.

  6. Yes, I received better support outside of the union.

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. banoffeepie11

    banoffeepie11 New commenter

    Have any other teachers union members found the union to be actually unhelpful when in need of their help for discrimination. I have a hearing disability, severe tinnitus and associated depression and anxiety that I have never been able to get recognised or support for. Any of the negative impacts it has had on my mental health has been passed off as my inadequacy as a teacher.

    I was discriminated against in a previous school and actually ended up being forced out with a settlement and a dodgy reference rather than been able to fight the discrimination. A 'reading between the lines' message that I was a racist was allowed to stay in the reference even though I fought for its removal for 4 months. The rep could not get it removed and keeped downplaying its meaning rather than take any further steps. The first experience not having the necessary support from the union.

    That problem followed me into my next school and continued problems for me, especially as I was told by old colleagues that the person who set out to get me from the previous school contacted my new school when asked for the reference and told them I was a 'racist'. It's only a couple of months after the fact that I began to find this out.

    I had made contacted with my new union rep when I started feeling like I was being picked on at my new school and keeping a record of incidents but yet again the union began to let me down.

    The actually issues and problems could not be addressed or pinned down for what they were. This school was able to turn things around and start putting the pressure on me with delays, 3 O.H reports, meetings, suspensions, miscalculated my sick pay and investigations for the next two years in order to get me to return on the conditions they wanted or just give up and leave.

    And instead of getting support to take on from union and seeing the bigger picture of what was happening, they have constantly acting as if the school might be have a point, the abuse was getting ignored and each new problem being handled badly.

    Finally, when I got a regional rep to look at my case, instead of support putting an end to abuse, I was expected to re-engage with the school again and see if a return to work to be arranged. I was been pressurized by the rep to be realistic and made aware that the school could just not take me back. She was in now way acting like I had a case or had faced any problems. She never interacted with me like a had a disability or was under any stress. She never asked how I was managing financially, not having been paid since November 2018.

    Finally I told the rep I would not be returning and wanted to go to tribunal. The rep ended up telling me two days before going on her holidays for 2 weeks that it was too late to go to tribunal and I should take a settlement. The only thing that mattered to her was that I sign a form freeing her of any responsibility. And that this should be signed even before the settlement was negotiated. However, expecting this to happen I independently made the application under advice for the C.A.B.

    The latest upshot is that the school via there legal team will be fighting this but I have been refused legal support via the union as I had not followed union advice and besides my case did not merit legal support and was probably out of time.

    Has anyone else experienced something like this and felt like a mug for paying £20+ a month for well over a decade to an organisation that actually will do all in there power not to upset the working relationship the union has with schools for the sake of individual members. The whole time I was going through this a colleague who used to be a schools rep was advising me that no matter what happened the union would want a 'backroom deal' and put the pressure on me to leave if they could not get the school to play ball.

    I am now going to have to take the union on legally as well as my employer, and I am still paying my subs from the benefits I am now claiming.
  2. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

  3. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Sorry you are going through all this. But remember your fight is with the school as they are where the problem emanates. Focus on getting the best possible deal with them first.

    Re paying full subscriptions whilst on benefits, if you are no longer in full time work, there is a reduced subscription and you may, and I say may, be able to get reimbursed for any full payments you have made whilst being unemployed.

    Ring up the union tomorrow and inform them you have been unemployed for X months and hopefully they will issue you with a reimbursement, usually via BACs payment. There is a lowered subscription for teachers unemployed or working part time.

    Have you considered contacting the NEU disabled teachers forum? If you ring up the NEU head office and ask to speak to a rep there perhaps they may help you.

    Hope you get things sorted soon. Remember focus on one fight at a time, too many fights at the same time dilutes your energy and good luck!
    annascience2012 and JohnJCazorla like this.
  4. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    It sounds an absolute mess.

    If you are going to take both on, you will need money, stamina, and the mindset that you may lose in both cases.

    Are you ready for that? You'll need a solicitor who can give you expert advice and be in it for the long haul.
    annascience2012 and JohnJCazorla like this.
  5. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    The problem with teaching is if we take our foot off the pedal as teachers, we are affecting students potential career and life choices. When they apply for jobs they can’t say it didn’t pass (insert subject here) because my teacher was absent/ill’.

    Schools have to weigh up options and it’s cruel but increasingly they are being run like businesses, looking at value for money etc. Support costs money too.

    The unions will also know this and seem to increasingly seem to be against the individual and side with the school for whatever reason.

    Do you really want to keep fighting in this kind of environment? Would a new school be better? A lot of my friends have negotiated a pay out because they couldn’t resolve their grievances and are much happier in other schools.
    sooooexcited likes this.
  6. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    I totally hear what you are saying and have been in a situation historically where I have felt that the world, the school, the union, and indeed even my own family were against me. Nonsense about the world, family and union of course, but the school would have completely pushed me over the edge, ruined my career, and as a consequence, my health. The NUT as it was then, saved me, and rescued my career. I can read that the OP is having a horrible time, and I sympathise. I do, however genuinely feel that if all of the membership of the school unions were actively involved (like I have been) teachers as a group of professionals would be a pretty formidable bunch. Many of us see the Union as an insurance policy that we only need when things go wrong, and yes, if that is the case, its an expensive insurance policy. If we were all involved - attended meetings, elected school reps, even volunteered as a rep, then as a professional group of people we would be less vulnerable to the treatment that some schools hand out.
  7. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    As an ex-Rep for NASUWT I should say "Well it's much better if you jumped ship and...…" In all honesty I can't as I have known some excellent NUT/ATL/NEU reps and equally I've seen variable levels in NASUWT.

    Just because a rep messed up doesn't invalidate the need for unions and even more importantly the need for members to back the union(s) within their school. Arguably the lack of decent representation within the school caused the environment where individuals can be bullied in this fashion.

    Though the above makes me an apologist for the unions I should also add that on the face of it you can take legal action against the union. This is the kind of thing where the ambulance-chasers that advertise on daytime TV will step in and can be relied on to correctly assess the chance of it winning in court (because they'll only do it for the payout).
    mothorchid likes this.
  8. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Thank you, you said what I wanted to say but better (and earlier)
  9. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    ;) You're welcome.x
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  10. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    @banoffeepie11 I'm sorry you're having such a difficult time.
    I have to say that your post comes over as a bit of a rant. This may or may not be your intention, but that's how it comes over to me.
    I notice that a number of the issues you had concerns over you call "between the lines" or say they "could not be addressed or pinned down". You also say you "had not followed union advice", but you are clearly unhappy about the outcome when you didn't. Somehow this seems to be the fault of the union? (I may have misunderstood here)
    It's all a bit nebulous and vague. Again, this may be me misunderstanding. But I would honestly suggest you think about whether you might be throwing good money after bad should you decide to sue the union. I don't think you can sue, for example, because the rep didn't ask how you were managing financially. I wouldn't have expected her to ask you that, and if you were hoping for financial support from the union, perhaps you could have asked?
    I wish you well and really hope things improve for you, but I wonder if a double court case is going to help your anxiety and depression?
  11. MegMorris1

    MegMorris1 New commenter

    Sue the union? Are you serious? The union isn't magic. It can't automatically get huge payouts for every teacher who feels that people have been mean about them if you read "between the lines". Union reps do what they can but they also can't single handedly mend a system that is broken or employment legislation that is unfair. They have to operate within very rigid rules.
    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
  12. MegMorris1

    MegMorris1 New commenter

    And god forbid the union should see a schools point regarding a member who hasn't been able to work for TWO YEARS!
  13. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    We have all known the child who has problems in every classroom and with every teacher. Sooner or later we ask ourselves "What is the common denominator here?"
    Not everyone is out to discriminate. I notice, @banoffeepie11, that one of your complaints about the union rep is that she "never interacted with me like a had a disability". Would you prefer to have been patronised?
    Sometimes we just have to move on.
    Pomza and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  14. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    Therefore you must have made the decision to follow the unions advice. I assume not enough evidence of discrimination therefore the union offered their advice to leave with a settlement agreement and agreed reference. There would have been plenty of opportunities to ammend the reference and this did allow you to move on and gain another teaching job.

    You would expect your new school to contact your former school. Whilst I cannot comment on what was said by your old school, I find it more than a little odd that a 'old colleague' would know the ins and outs of such a private matter. Seems to me that someone is simply try to stir things up?

    Seems perfectly sensible given the time away from the school.

    Honestly not a good idea, but I do wish you luck.
  15. averagedan

    averagedan Occasional commenter

    From what you've written it sounds like the union has given you sound advice to be honest...… I can't see anything that's unreasonable.
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Which isn't quite the same as you wrote in 2016 at the time.
    In this thread you say you've not been in the classroom for two years, which means you must have gone off with sickness or similar in September 2017 or thereabouts.
    I agree with the union that realistically the school can't just take you back and you will need to reengage with them to an extent, even if you decide to take a settlement.
    She is right to ask you to sign such a form if you are planning to ignore her advice and expertise.
    Given ACAS (And the CAB on their website here) says you need to make a claim within three months minus one day. Two years is significantly longer than that, so even if you think you fit the criteria for a 'late claim' you are unlikely to succeed.
    The NEU has given you sound advice, which you have chosen to ignore. Now you are annoyed that they won't support you in doing what they advise against?
    The union don't appear to have done anything wrong, so not sure what you can claim from them.
    In recent casework training, the more experienced caseworkers all said that their biggest frustration with the work was unrealistic expectations and demands from members. I think you make a case in point.
    JohnJCazorla, Pomza, strawbs and 3 others like this.
  17. berry3534

    berry3534 New commenter

    This saddens me, the only experience I have had with the NEU was complete and utter support from the start of my claim to a satisfactory conclusion at Judicial Mediation. They offered great advice, provided superb regional support and their solicitors were fantastic.
    I never thought that I would ever need assistance but they were there from the first call right up to returning my school keys and equipment.
    I hope that this post does not put anyone off joining or continuing as a member, each case on its own merits of course but I would be in a much worse position without them.
  18. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    Since the less "supportive" posts, I fear the OP has gone quiet because he is planning to sue us...;)
    Weald56 likes this.
  19. ThereAreBunniesInMyHead

    ThereAreBunniesInMyHead Occasional commenter

    Sorry for your problems you are experiencing. I've only had one experience with my union (NASUWT) which was also due to my school trying to discriminate against me based on my disability. My NASUWT rep referred it to my regional rep, who came in for a meeting, and basically tore SLT apart, making it clear what laws they were breaking, what he expected them to do etc. He was VERY hot on making it clear what WOULD happen next etc and they were clearly scared because they have literally never brought it up again and I've been left alone since then with no problems. I thought it would make work uncomfortable for me but its actually just let me get on with my job and I'm glad I did it.
    ilovesooty, catbefriender and strawbs like this.
  20. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Over more than 30 years in teaching,m I needed the support of my Union twice. As it happens two different Unions. On one occasion the local (regional?) official, a teacher at another school, was the key person. On the other the regional officer, a former DHT now working full time for the Union, was the (incredibly helpful) support.

    I'd never have continued to work without Union support.

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