Union bete noire is a member

2nd April 2004 at 01:00
The college principal behind the controversial sacking of a leading union official on his staff is now a member of the same union.

Peter Duncan, principal of Glasgow Central College of Commerce, belonged to the Scottish Further and Higher Education Association at the time of the dismissal of Jim O'Donovan, branch secretary of the then College Lecturers'

Association and now national president of its successor, the Further Education Lecturers' Association (FELA).

But the subsequent merger of the SFHEA with the CLA, part of the Educational Institute of Scotland, means Mr Duncan now finds himself in the ironic position of being an EIS member.

He confirmed this when contacted by The TES Scotland and said he would continue his membership "because I believe strongly in the fundamental principles of trade unionism". According to the EIS, the seven SFHEA members at the college were all managers.

This has enraged some FE members of the EIS for whom this is yet another unhappy outcome of the merger between the two unions. It may also embarrass Ronnie Smith, the EIS general secretary, who fiercely attacked Mr Duncan and his management over their handling of the O'Donovan case at the inaugural FELA conference (TESS, last week).

Jeff McCracken, a leading FELA member at Central College, told the conference it was "not acceptable" that senior managers, from principal to head of department level, should be in the union.

Meanwhile it has emerged that the Central College board is considering reinstating Mr O'Donovan, as recommended by the tribunal which upheld his appeal against unfair dismissal.

A statement from the college in response to TES Scotland enquiries said taking Mr O'Donovan back was one of a number of options in what it described as "parallel tracking activities". The board may also decide to appeal against the tribunal's ruling once it has studied the full judgment.

Mr Duncan said: "The restoration of constructive industrial relations is paramount irrespective of what decision the board of management reaches at its special meeting."

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