Two senior officers in the UK's second-largest teaching union are under scrutiny as to whether they are eligible to hold office.
Both the NASUWT’s national president Dave Kitchen and its national treasurer Russ Walters are not eligible to hold office because they are not serving teachers, a tribunal hearing at the government's trade union Certification Office in Belfast has heard.
By being in office, they allegedly breached the union’s own rules that only people who are employed as qualified teachers or who are contracted to “teach, lecture or instruct” are eligible for full membership of the NASUWT. But the union denies the claims.
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In evidence submitted to the Certification Office by former NASUWT Northern Ireland president Susan Parlour, she said she had telephoned Mr Kitchen’s school, as listed in the union diary, only to be told that he hadn’t worked there “for many years”.
Regarding Mr Walters, she said she had obtained a document from his employer, Bolton Council, stating that he was employed to undertake trade union duties on behalf of the NASUWT. But she said: “That is not a contract to teach, lecture or instruct.”
The Certification Office hearing, which took place over several hours last Friday, also heard how the union’s previous national president Dan McCarthy had been ineligible to hold office.
Ms Parlour said she had also telephoned his school only to be told he had retired from teaching “a number of years ago.” The union, however, denied that any of its rules were breached.
NASUWT acting general secretary Chris Keates said in a witness statement that Mr Kitchen had taken phased retirement commencing January 2014, and was now employed on “a 0.4 contract with fulltime release”.
She also said Russ Walters fulfilled eligibility for full membership adding: “For the purposes of the 2018 National Executive nomination process, Russ Walters provided evidence that he remained employed as a teacher by Bolton Children Services and he is engaged on school teachers’ terms and conditions of employment.”
Regarding Mr McCarthy, Ms Keates said his ill health had prevented him from teaching prior to his resignation from the office of national president on ill-health grounds on 1st March 2019.
She said he had told her, back in 2016, that he was leaving his school, adding: “I reminded him that he would need to secure alternative employment with a school or to take on supply teaching to remain eligible for full membership. He told me that he intended to seek supply work. I understood that this reflected his genuine intention.
She added: “At some point in 2018, it became evident that his health was deteriorating to a point where he was unable to fully carry out his duties, and it also became clear that he was not able to take up supply work. He advised the National Officers that this was, in fact, the case.”
The certification officer is expected to return a decision on the eligibility of the officers before the end of November.
The union said it did not wish to comment on the matter.