GMB members in Tower Hamlets school seek justice for bullying by Headteacher
GMB members in Tower Hamlets Primary School seek justice for threats and bullying by headteacherThroughout this difficult and stressful time support staff have acted with great professionalism but they feel that there has been no justice, and workplace bullying has gone unpunished says GMB London
GMB members at Bangabandhu Primary School, Tower Hamlets, seek justice for threats and bullying by the headteacher, Marigold Palmer-Jones, over the way in which she tried to implement changes to their terms and conditions. Instead they received an apology from the chair of governors which does not mention or acknowledge the unacceptable behaviour from the headteacher.
Following the intervention of GMB and the Local Authority, an independent investigation was launched by Governors into the events and actions of the acting headteacher. The investigation upheld the support staff complaint that the acting headteacher had failed to consult over changes to their contracts of employment. The investigating officer also found that staff were "effectively ambushed and put under considerable pressure to immediately agree changes to their employment contracts under the threat of losing their jobs."
The investigation went on to say "the manner in which the consultation meeting were organised, carried out and followed up by her appear almost designed to bounce, if not terrify, staff into agreeing to the proposals with which they were suddenly confronted under threat of losing their jobs." "This threat alone, is sufficient in the opinion of the investigating officer for the acting headteacher to amount to bullying."
Gary Carter, GMB Regional Officer, said
"Support Staff have been waiting nearly 12 months to get justice after the then acting headteacher "effectively ambushed" them and threatened support staff with dismissal if they did not immediately sign new contracts with worse terms and conditions of employment. This included downgrading and paying support staff less, increasing their hours of work and changing their start and finish times.
"The acting head followed staff around the school; took staff individually into her office and forced them to sign new contracts under the threat of dismissal. Staff members were reduced to tears, fearing for their jobs.
"Despite this damning report, the Governing Body failed to take any disciplinary action against the acting headteacher and instead in March 17 commissioned a second report from a different investigator, and found there was no disciplinary case to answer. None of the complainants were interviewed during the second investigation so we feel that this serious whistleblowing complaint has been whitewashed by the governing body.
"Although the report states that the acting headteacher’s actions amount to bullying, shortly afterwards she was rewarded by the governors when Marigold Palmer-Jones was given the job permanently.
"The Chair of Governors and Head Teacher have issued an apology, but they do not apologise for the actions of the head teacher or take responsibility for those actions.
"Throughout this difficult and stressful time support staff have acted with great professionalism but they feel that there has been no justice, and workplace bullying has gone unpunished. This behaviour from the principle is unacceptable, especially in a school environment. Support staff feel let down and angry at the double standards and lack of fairness
"In a consultative strike action ballot, GMB members voted unanimously to for strike action."
Contact: GMB London Press Office on 0208 457 4143