NASUWT former president excluded after speaking out

A teaching union has removed an executive member after she questioned the lengthy suspensions of senior officials and the timetable for the general secretary’s re-election.

Susan Parlour, the former president in Northern Ireland for the NASUWT, has been excluded from the union’s national executive.

Documents show the union began action against the teacher last October, weeks after she questioned its handling of disciplinary matters and less than two months after she asked for a timetable for the re-election of general secretary Chris Keates.

It just seems to be that there’s one rule for them in how they treat their employees and another for everyone else

Schools Week reported earlier this month how Keates’ five-year term, stipulated by union law, has ended.

But the general secretary has yet to call an election and is serving in an interim capacity – despite there being no provision in the 1992 Trade Union and Labour Relations Act for her to do so.

This week, the body responsible for regulating unions in England told Schools Week it had received a number of reports about the NASUWT, including one related to Keates’s re-election, and was considering what complaints to put back to the union for formal consideration.

Parlour is the fifth person that the union has suspended or removed after they questioned the actions of the union’s leadership.

It claims Parlour was “aggressive” when she asked about earlier suspensions, that she behaved “inappropriately” and acted in a way that was “prejudicial to the interests of the union”.

But Parlour claimed this week that the leadership wanted to keep her quiet.

She also accused the NASUWT of hypocrisy over the suspensions – some of which have been in place for well over a year.

“We are against protracted suspensions, that’s our policy. Chris Keates has talked on a number of occasions about suspensions and how they can be open to abuses of power,” she told Schools Week.

“It just seems to be that there’s one rule for them in how they treat their employees and another for everyone else, and that anybody who questions that, well, off with their head.

“That’s the way they deal with it. They won’t accept questions about their own way of dealing with things.”

Earlier this year the union was ordered to reinstate Richard Harris, a former regional organiser, after an employment tribunal found it was likely he was sacked for whistleblowing.

Harris, like Parlour, had been subject to allegations about his own conduct, but claims he was forced out because of his activity within the GMB union, which organised strikes by NASUWT staff last year.

Schools Week also revealed earlier this month how three other senior national officials have suspended following disputes with the organisation’s top team.

In one case, a senior staffer has been off work for more than 18 months, while two others were suspended about a year ago.

Documents seen by this newspaper confirm Parlour was first notified of action against her after she questioned senior elected officials about the whereabouts of suspended staff. She has also submitted four complaints to the Northern Ireland Certification Officer, which holds unions to account.

The office of England’s Certification Officer confirmed it too had received a number of reports about the NASUWT. Although it did not have investigatory powers, the body can put formal complaints to the union and preside over hearings on the issues reported to it.

The union said it would be “inappropriate” to comment.