Last time we exposed long-standing bullying at Academy Union (AU). This time we focus on a specific case of what can happen when an innocent elected Union member falls foul of certain Academy Union staff “enforcers” of the union management.
So that our readers can understood how this injustice to a union member occurred, we have to emphasize that the real controllers of the Academy Union are the top management team who make all day-to-day decisions. Union Managers have a privileged salary, numerous job perks and subsidised life-style such as freedom to work from home. Academy Union staff enjoy working conditions which are much better than any equivalent university or college grade in the sector they represent.
Indeed the salaries and conditions of even lower-grade Academy Union officials are only matched by the professoriate salaries of union members in some of the older universities. In an academic sector which is increasingly casualized and a majority of academic staff in the UK are not in permanent jobs, Academy Union employees have some of the best working conditions of employees anywhere in the country. That may explain why only one of the top managers accepted the union’s generous voluntary severance scheme, and he (having allegedly received over £300k) renegotiated a new job leading the Academy Union Dictatorship Section.
When Academy Union faced financial crisis due to hitches in selling two valuable property assets while buying and refitting a third, members took the hit in poor service. The union then spent over a £1 million to reduce its staff compliment by just ten people! Some of the pay-offs were spectacular- do the maths! Some of those “paid off” even immediately came back!
The highest beneficiares in the Academy Union’s generous staff trough are its top managers. Pay and perks @ Academy Union are so good for its staff that only the top 3% of its union members earn as much as the management team of their union. In short, only a tiny fraction of professors at elite universities earn as much as the General Secretary and union managers who are lavishly paid to represent them. That is even before we count the Academy Union’s Presidential Apartments, travel perks and even a bicycle purchase subsidy, pension scheme and union employee benefits. It certainly makes up for having to drink all that acidic “FairTrade” coffee which the union provides free for its staff.
The case we want to expose at Academy Union in this posting concerns an innocent union volunteer and an alleged sex predator among its officials. It also reveals the union’s failure to take action despite years of complaints about this union official, the inaction of his line manager, a cover-up disguised as a perfunctionary union investigation and the collusion of a union senior manager. The union volunteer was allegedly sexually assaulted by the Academy Union official at a union function witnessed by a dozen other union members including members of the union’s National Executive Committee. The volunteer was allegedly assaulted a second time, again during union work, the union official’s drunken behaviour having attracted the concern of premises security. Following the volunteer’s complaint his manager said she would talk to him and another senior union manager became involved as the official warned the volunteer that he would use this senior manager to silence him. Having served as a volunteer for close to a decade this elected member suddenly got a complaint from the senior manager about his expenses claims concerning such matters as his contact, his precise home address and his claim for carer’s allowance while he was on union business.
The senior manager claimed he did not have proof of the member’s address. The member produced his Council tax registration and a file of utility address confirmations for his home covering several decades. The manager claimed he wanted to know more about the caring relationship- something which is not even covered in union regulations. Nevertheless the volunteer happily provided full NHS certification for the caring arrangement. The manager said he did not believe the authorising doctor was curently practising and disproved the doctor’s reports as not being written with clincial rigor. The manager had actually mistaken the medical consultant for a different practice with a similar name. The British Medical Association then criticized the Academy Union for potentially slanderous allegations against one of its GPs. The manager claimed he previously knew nothing about the volunteer so could not be held to have acted disproportionately against him. The manager had in fact been named (for the first time at least a full three years previously) in the volunteer’s original sexual assault complaint as the Academy Union official had threatened him if he went ahead with the complaint he would use the senior manager to “bury him”. In addition, the senior manager had been involved in the complaint-review in which another manager had said she would “speak to” the official about his “inappropriate behaviour at a union function”. Moreover the same senior manager had negatively evaluated a case submitted by the volunteer for assistance from the union, some years earlier.
The extent of the union’s investigation of the sexual assault investigation was a two minute phone call to the volunteer made by another union senior manager asking how he would propose to evidence it. The outcome was that the union investigator, a colleague of the complaining senior manager, decided there was no provable case. The volunteer who was on a casual contract found his college’s human resources staff and his branch union officers were encouraged by the complaining senior manager to regard the volunteer as un-employed and stripped him from union membership.
To seal things the complaining senior manager set up a sting which undercut the volunteer when he relied on his branch to continue as a Committee representative. The volunteer had a long-standing branch approval to do committee work but within two minutes of his lodging his application for Committee nomination, the senior manager had undermined his support.
In short, this was a case of an Academy Union senior manager arguing with the human resources director of a college that a member could not have branch membership on the basis of his temporary but renewable contract offer. All this despite the union official policy to defend casual staff. The complaining manager at Academy Union then upped the anty against the volunteer by arguing he was foul of union rules requiring a contract to sit on union committees and thereby also calling into question the eligibility criterion for some of the volunteer’s past expenses. The volunteer made it clear he was blameless, had incurred all expenses in good faith and asked for an independent investigation. Academy Union refused, they ignored fresh evidence on the alleged sexual assault and concluded the volunteer had breached union rules with a view to expelling him.
The entirety of this process was overseen by the senior manager who was named in the volunteer’s complaint, but the union claimed that he could still morally do that while remaining at arms length of his own investigation. The shrewd result of this sanction is that it immediately deprived the member of branch affiliation and scuttled his request for an investigation of the sexual and collusion allegation. The volunteer was still owed more expenses by the union (if they accepted his eligibility) than he had ever claimed. The Union had suspended payment to him of meal, transport, carer’s and other expenses running into many thousands of pounds- a large sum compared with the expenses disputed by the Union.
The volunteer would like to use this forum to appeal for Academy Union to appoint a genuinely independent investigator into both the alleged sexual assault and membership issues. Such an investigation may compel Academy Union to produce previous complaints of sexual assault against Academy Union officials and allegations of alleged collusion between that official and the same named senior manager in regard to past compaints by the union’s volunteers. Such a process would also have to consider if Academy Union had permitted a culture of bullying at its London headquarters and that the Academy Union senior manager had also been subject to previous complaints of “union bullying”. The Academy Union has been criticized for allowing poor management practices e.g. an incestuous line management system complicated by marital and extra-marital relationships among its top employees, and a high level of complaints of staff bullying against the senior manager the volunter has complained of.
The Academy Union employee named in the complaint as an alleged sexual predator has a lengthy history of volunteer complaints. It is disturbing that the Academy Union which prides itself on equality services to members has such lack over-sight of alleged sexual bullying or that his line supervisor would regard it appropriate only to “have a word” with the staff member about his behaviour. This Academy Union senior staffer, again the subject of collusion allegations, has been referred to in previous disciplinary reports as the union’s “enforcer”, and as someone whose forcefulness had allowed his judgement to go unquestioned. We cannot necessarily look to our professional representation as a defense against bullying, and that Academy Union is not the membership-led organisation set out in its principles.
Many members now feel that Academy Union Congress, overtly its supreme body, is controlled by senior managers. However union membership is so weak and the Union Executive so “hands off” that genuine union democracy has long been sacrificed by its well paid Union employees. This web-site has exposed allegations of bullying across the college system, and where it exists, we are equally determined to stamp out bulling at Academy Union so that members can get the genuinely democratic representation their subscriptions deserve.
ADVISORY….This is a work of humorous parody and any similarities with persons or places real or imagined is purely a matter of coincidence. If you’ve been bullied at your union or in any F/HE institution don’t hesitate in complete confidence to E-MAIL:firstname.lastname@example.org Victims may complain without penalty under their college procedures or consider making a complaint to their local police. Where the police are contacted bullying usually ceases immediately.