UCU & RACISM
David Triesman-Joanna DeGroot Ignornant of Racism on the AUT[UCU]ShopFloor
“The Tribunal found Dr Joanna DeGroot to be a patronising, unreliable and evasive witness. ...”
INSTITUTIONALISED RACISM IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION UCU RACE POLICY EXPOSED - 2007
The Institutionalised Racism extended across the Higher Education Sector is well documented in an empirical study by John Carter, Steve Fenton & Tariq Modood funded by the CRE, AUT, NATHFE, CUCO, CVCP, HEFCE, & SHEFC and others, Ethnicity Employment in Higher Education 1999.
Unfortunately, the findings of that study have long been forgotten. Like Sir William McPherson’s Report on the Steve Lawrence Enquiry, it has become bedside reading for the racist employers and a public relations exercise for the trade unions without proper groundwork being done on the ‘shop floor’. In Dr D’Silva’s case readers have seen an example of institutionalised discrimination within a single organisation, Manchester Metropolitan University. However, in the present story you would find how the Academic Institutions could put in place a discriminatory regime to close ranks and carry out the acts discrimination and victimisation against whistle blowers. In this regard we draw attention to Stephen Lawrence enquiry Chaired by Sir William McPherson of Cluny who defined institutionalised racism as follows:
"The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in process, attitude and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwittingly prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people" [paragraph 6.34].
The above principles apply even if everyone in an organisation is not individually racist. Since Institutionalised Racism is not a legally accepted phraseology, the Court of Appeal in Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis v J Hendricks  reformulated the definition of institutionalized racism as follows:
“To describe an ongoing situation or state of affairs was, the Court of Appeal said, a more precise way of characterising Ms Hendricks’ case than to use “institutionalised racism” or a “prevailing way of life”, a “general policy of discrimination”, or a “climate” or “culture” of unlawful discrimination”.
Mr Deman has received an overwhelming support for his nomination for the NEC Black Membership in University College Union Elections 2007 across the United Kingdom, i.e., from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England & Wales and also form overseas. Some of these people are also members of the Council for Ethnic Minority and Council for Academic Freedom. Since Mr Deman does not personally know many of those who nominated him we thought we provide the members some background information about his academic history, experiences of employment problems and commitment to the Trade Union movement.
Mr Deman obtained his BSc, MA & MPhil from India and an MA & DBA from one of the top universities in the World, the University of Pittsburgh, and he also has an M. Phil from the UK. He has travelled internationally presenting his research in about 50 countries and has worked in India, Poland, US, Australia, Japan, Northern Ireland, New Zealand and in London as an Assistant Professor/Visiting Professor, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Research Fellow, Research Coordinator, and Professor. His main research interest is theoretical modelling of corporate takeovers and acquisitions and the policy implications on society at large. He has published about 30 research papers and books articles and he has served on the United Nations Expert Group Panel for UNEP/UNCTAD. The UNEP invited him to contribute an article on Environmental Compliance, which included incorporating Health & Safety and Affirmative action into the modelling. His research paper was published in the UNEP Report in 1994 with an extended mathematical version published in the proceedings of the International Performance & Measurement Conference, held at Cambridge University in 1998. He was invited to contribute 5 leading articles in Blackwell’s International Encyclopaedia of Finance, edited by Professors Paxton and Wood of the University of Manchester and two chapters in refereed edited volumes, published by Oxford and Cambridge Press, and other three accepted. Further, his Managerial Decision Economics & Advances in Econometrics  papers were highly rated by his peers.
Trade Union Background
Mr Deman is an active member of Civil Liberties and Human Rights organizations. Given his background he is keenly interested in the plight of people of oppressed and ethnic minorities all over the world. He is a committed trade unionist with considerable trade union experience including working closely with the former Defence Minister of India, Mr. George Fernandez during an Industrial Action of 2 million Railway Workers in 1974. He has also worked with Mr. Prakash Karat, the present General Secretary of the CPIM, when he was President of the ‘Students’ Federation of India, Centre for Indian Trade Unions [CITU], Rajasthan University Teachers’ Association, University Senate and the All Indian Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation. He has been a founder member of a number organisations including Civil Rights movements in the UK and elsewhere. He has never hesitated to voice his opinion on issues surrounding the right to a fair hearing, unfair dismissals, racial discrimination and victimization. Mr Deman was also one of the founders of the Council for Ethnic Minority, which assists victims in the Employment Tribunal [firstname.lastname@example.org].
In the late 1990s Mr Deman actively campaigned for Race Relation Legislation in Northern Ireland, which finally became a reality. The BBC interviewed him for a programme entitled, “Hidden Troubles in Northern Ireland” and he was called to the ITV on a current affairs programme to comment on changes in legislation. In the wider context he has made representation on reforms in the Employment Tribunals system including policies and practices to provide a “level playing field” for individuals taking complaints against their employers in the Tribunals and the EAT. We outlined our suggestions to the Lord Chancellor who agreed discussions with us:
1. Complaints procedure and methods of investigation of complaints against members of the judiciary of the ET/EAT and County Courts;
2. Examples of specific and general complaints to overcome the generic argument, “we can’t do anything on the basis of one complaint”;
3. Institutionalised bias of the Employment Tribunals/Courts against the litigants in person;
4. Problems of administration of justice in the Employment Tribunals & EAT (Following decision of House of Lords in Lawal v Northern Spirit Ltd);
5. Problems with Appeal Procedure re: Visitorial jurisdiction & Legal Aid;
6. Absence of Human Rights in the RRA/Employment Law & Legal aid in ET
7. Suggestions for Reforms: Discrimination cases must be tried by a Jury, limiting role of Tribunal Chairmen on fact findings, mandatory reinstatement, rewards and penalties including punitive damages, etc.
With his commitment to trade unionism Mr Deman was extremely disappointed in the functioning of Trade Unions in the Higher Education and the attitude of the leadership. They appeared to be more interested in the public relations exercise by putting a few people of the ethnic minority on their front desk rather than undertaking the real work on “the shop floor.” Many like me who approached them for assistance received platitudes rather than assistance. Thus an individual member seeking a resolution of an employment problem is often brought into conflict not only with his employer but also with his/her union that is supposed to assist in employment problems.
This is demonstrated by the fact that in the period 1997-2004, there were 16 claims of racial discrimination against the Union of which an Iranian member won 2 claims, 6 were settled (including one Iranian member, the union admitted liability in 2 claims), three claims were withdrawn and three are pending. Any member considering that the union is there to help him or her in employment difficulties should feel alarmed at these statistics. The above claims do not include claims against the AUT but we suspect the picture is not different as we are aware 7 claims by members of Indian origin in Central London Tribunal, 1 claim by a Chinese in Glasgow Tribunal, 2 by an Indian in Northern Ireland Tribunal are registered against the AUT & its officers.
Mr Deman’s own experiences with the AUT/NATFHE mirror these experiences. He first experienced discrimination in the US and after a long battle of 6 years in 1994 the Federal Court of Pennsylvania in a Jury trial found Professor Kevin Sontheimer, Head of Department and the University of Pittsburgh guilty of racial discrimination. Despite a unanimous verdict by 6 members of the jury the University of Pittsburgh instructed one of the largest Law Firm, Reid, Smith & McCauley [with over 250 lawyers] to harass Mr Deman for 2 years to set aside the verdict but without success. Despite his success his past employer are still haunting him by sending one-sided view of his cases to his past & potential employers to victimise him. Unfortunately, his employers (past and present) choose to rely upon one-sided information and unsolicited references rather than the court transcripts. This statistics does not include internal complaints.
In Mr Deman’s claims in 1999 a Central London Tribunal found as follows:
“Dr Triesman was an impressive witness but he displayed a surprised degree of naiveté and ignorance as to the reality of discrimination on the shop floor. His evidence that everything was satisfactory in race terms within the AUT apart from the applicant’s complaint, displayed a surprised degree of ignorance and complacency: It does not follow from the facts that no-one other than the applicant had raised an official grievance under the rules – unlike the applicant – that all ethnic minority members are happy with the state of affairs within the union.” [1/1/44].
“The Tribunal found Dr Joanna DeGroot to be a patronising, unreliable and evasive witness. When asked by a Member of this Tribunal as to how many members of the York University were black, her glib, evasive and unhelpful reply was, “I don’t put labels on people” [1/1/42]
“Dr Triesman should meet with and pay heed to the views of members like Dr Saha, who was a most impressive witness, who wanted to work with and not against the AUT but who are very unhappy with the services provided by the AUT to ethnic minority members. When asked why he had not raised any internal grievance, his telling reply was, “Then I would have ended up like the Applicant”, i.e., in the Tribunal against the AUT, which is not the situation he would like to be in. [1/1/44]
Similarly, the EAT President Justice Lindsay commented in case against the AUT, Triesman and & others as follows:
"For a body, especially one which could be reasonably expected to be well informed and effective as the LAC, to escape a possible conclusion of racial discrimination on the grounds of its incompetence and corner-cutting is obviously unattractive and, if not carefully watched, the use of such an escape route could all too easily become endemic".
However Justice Lindsay’s forewarning fell on deaf ears of the Union leadership. Although Mr. Triesman got a fast track promotion from General Secretary of AUT to the Labour Party General Secretary, to Lord Triesman as a Government whip, if one examines his record, he has done very little, if anything, for the union and its members. The union rather than uniting against the employers chose to unit against the victims.
When faced with employment problems and being turned down from receiving trade union support the individual academic has basically two choices to withdraw his or her complaint or take it forward on an individual basis facing overwhelming odds. Mr Deman personally chose the latter route and we must say it is a long hard road that Mr Deman would not wish any other individual to have to take.
Deman’s Treatment in the HE Sector & Tribunals Results:
Mr Deman has had his successes within the tribunal system in the rare cases where he received a fair hearing from a Chairmen with an open mind who was not intimidated by the high powered and expensive employer’s legal teams. But one must bear in mind that the Employment Tribunals Service Annual Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2005 show only 3% of race discrimination cases were successful at Tribunal. We summarise the findings in some of Mr Deman’s own cases [tried himself] which is as follows:
European School of Economics:
In case of European School of Economics the Tribunal concluded in paragraph 13.2 as follows:
“It is our unanimous judgement that the Respondents ESE and Dr Coates (who made the appointment) discriminated against the Claimant on the grounds of his race when Mr Vidgeon was short listed and appointed to the position of adjunct Lectureship and he was not and that this was to his detriment. It is our unanimous judgement that Dr Mitchell did not discriminate against the Respondent as she did not play any party in the appointment of Mr. Vidgeon”.
In relation to position of Assistant Academic Director the Tribunal in paragraph 13.2 concluded as follows:
“It is our unanimous judgement that the Respondents ESE and Dr Coates discriminated against the Claimant by treating the Claimant less favourably that Ms Lopez-Rodridze on grounds of his race by failing to short list or appoint him to the Assistant Academic Director post and that this was to his detriment.”
On 9 June 2005 the Tribunal awarded substantial damages, which after a lot of difficulties the Respondents agreed to pay and Mr. Deman cleared some of his debts to his solicitor from previous actions.
University of Greenwich & Russell Brockett, Director of Personnel:
In case of his past employer, the University of Greenwich & others in which the AUT & NATFHE refused to provide support believing that there were no prospects of success the Ashford Tribunal found as follows:
“Mr Geddes was capable of making racist comments” ……In our view, the Applicant was on this occasion genuinely of the opinion that the remark was racist. We consider that we are entitled to infer racial discrimination in that instance.” [para 70].
“Whichever account of the words used is preferred, the remark is unquestionably a racist stereotype and Mr Geddes is revealed as someone capable of ethnic stereotype.”[para 91].
“…comment made in at the Staff Assessment Panel meeting of 23 June 1999, at which Mr Geddes described half the subject group as “brain dead” and the other half as “idle bastards”. Given the clear indication of racist attitudes entertained by Mr Geddes, we believe that the proper inference to draw is that this remark was capable of interpretation as a from of racial discrimination and that the Applicant did so interpret”.
As to Russell Brockett, Director of Personnel, the Tribunals found as follows:
“We consider, however, that a serious procedural irregularity has occurred, depriving the Applicant of the right to a fair hearing. ”[para 87].
“In order to attract the defence, both elements must be present, but in our view even if this were not so it would be impossible to say that in a number of cases the Applicant’s complaints were made in bad faith.” ….In our view, that the alleged trouble-maker was protected by section 2 of the Act and the disadvantage to him occasioned by Mr Brockett’s actions inevitably constitute example of victimisation.” [para 117]
“We have said Russell Brockett was acting in effect as prosecuting counsel and that it was for the Applicant to defend himself. That does not alter the fact however, that Brockett may have been motivated to take that position by his desire to get rid of the Applicant.” [para 123].
“In our view, the proper inference to draw from the facts is that Mr Brockett had decided, probably some time in June or July, that his duty to deal with the Applicant’s trouble-making, albeit trouble-making by the raising of allegations of racial discrimination, in seeking the dismissal of the Applicant.” [para 124]
Greenwich EO Claim & Sir William McPherson Report:
Further, the University of Greenwich had been in breach of his own Equal Opportunity commitments as exemplified in its EO report and in the THES, though clamour for factual substantiation:
“Black and ethnic minority constitute 7% of staff who have returned monitoring information. This figure is considerably lower than the percentage of ethnic minority students (28%). The ethnic diversity of staff is also considerably less than the diversity of the population of the London region (20.2%).”
The official response (in reference to Sir William McPherson’s inquiry into the racist murder of Steve Lawrence) to the University Court was discussed in a joint consultative group meeting of the NATFHE, AUT (on page 3 of the minutes). Mr Brockett, Director of Personnel, said, “there had been only a small number (2?) of complaints of racial harassment that required investigation.” Clearly, Mr Brockett’s claim is contrary to the evidence gathered by our volunteer as the following cases are registered in the Ashford Employment Tribunal against the University of Greenwich, case #51442/96, 47503/96, 2302552/97, 2305534/97, 1102038/97, 1102147/97, 1100918/98, 1101208/98, 1101486/98, 1101610/98, 1102044/98, 1101341/99, 11014699/99, 1101618/99 and since then Dr Nejad, Dr Mehdian, Dr Nissan and many other have made claims against the University of Greenwich but got no support from the unions. This does not include a number of cases, which were pursued through internal process, reported to the CRE and REC and swept under the rug. The Union leadership and the Attorney General has ignored the fact, that the Respondents like the Queen’s University of Belfast has paid millions in damages in the last couple of years and there are numerous pending applications against the respondents. We wonder why they do not burn midnight oil to bring changes in the Employment Act to bring proceeding against these serial Respondents?
In fact, the University failed to make progress in spite of its court’s resolution in March 1999,
“We suggest that the university conduct a survey among all staff to determine, more realistically, the extent of institutional racism and individual’s experience of it.”
Unfortunately, the Unions like NATFHE & AUT [UCU] did not make any comments in the meeting in spite of their outcry against institutional racism within their organisations and in the HE & FE sector for window dressing. In fact, they proactively represented the management although Mr. Deman was the member of both the unions.
The above statistics definitely refutes University’s claim on equal opportunity. In fact, in the opinions of many leaders of the ethnic community, the University of Greenwich is one of the worse employers located in the Racist Capital of Europe in the new millennium. In the above background the Greenwich Racial for Equality Council has included investigation of Institutional Racism at the University of Greenwich as a priority in their work programme 2000-2001 but abandoned it despite the findings of racial discrimination and victimisation [Enemy Within].
University of Nottingham & Professor Gow, P-V-C & Ex-Director Business School:
Mr Deman also achieved success on his own against the University of Nottingham & Professor Gow, Director of Business School [Ex- PVC and Present Vice Chancellor of University of Sheffield & Nottingham] is most striking, when a Newcastle Tribunal sat in Nottingham for 28 days as Mrs. Morehan, a lay member of the Tribunal was also a Respondent and made findings as follows against a number of senior officers and academics including Professor Gow, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Director of the Business School and Mrs. Morehan, Director of Personnel and a lay member of the Nottingham Tribunal as follows:
Mrs. Morehen, Director of Personnel: The Tribunal found that, “The faxed questionnaires which she alleged was illegible was certainly not. She was, in a sense, being awkward with the Claimant” [see, paragraph 5.2.5]. The tribunal found that, “She had been giving evidence about her gathering awareness of the existence of a serial litigant making race discrimination claims against universities” [paragraph 5.2.7]. Further the Tribunal found that, “Whenever she made the connection, the phrase “with us” was used by her in a tone of voice which indicated she viewed Mr. Deman as some sort of plague that had just been visited upon the University” [paragraph 5.2.8]. The Tribunal was a bit mild in criticism of Mrs. Morehen because she was a lay member of the Nottingham tribunal but even that criticism speaks volumes, as she perceived Mr. Deman as if the University was attack by a plague.
Mrs. Kaur: Deputy Director of Personnel: “The point is Mrs. Kaur told Mrs. Morehen and one of them told Mrs. Marshall. Mrs. Kaur immediately checked the current job applications to see if Mr. Deman was applying fro anything. Why? She could not explain. She found two applications (for job 364 and 386 – see later) and she says she told no-one anything. That is incredible. Why anyone look, and do nothing? We believe she reported back to Professor Gow of her own initiative [paragraphs 5.3.4]. The Tribunal found that, “We believe that she told first Mrs. Marshall, possibly Mrs. Morehen and at some stage possibly Professor Gow that she had found applications from this person who has previously taken the Director of School to a Tribunal” [paragraph 6.82]. Further the Tribunal found as follows:
“We were disturbed by the evidence relating to job 364 particularly our inability to believe what Mrs. Kaur said about not reporting finding the applications to anyone” [paragraph 8.84].
Professor Wright: They show the Claimant, who is identified as Candidate C for the Economics post, as having an RAE of 4. In a letter then written by Mr. Mordue to Mr. Titterington the argument was effectively being put forward to Mr. Titterington was that it was ridiculous to say that the University has victimised him for representing Mr. Deman when, in fact, they had long listed Mr. Deman and given him a high rating” [paragraph 6.96]. Then the Tribunal found that, “Professor Wright now says that his rating was a “mistake” somewhere in the chain of communication” [paragraph 6.97]. Further tribunal says, “We do not believe there was any mistake. Professor Wright was one of the most uncomfortable witnesses we have seen for many years. “… When asked questions about the recruitment exercise and his role in it he was looking out of the window and, in words of one of the members, “waffling”. “…..Professor Wright simply would not answer the Chairman’s question in the way it was put…”We find Professor Wright looked at the Claimant’s past and knowing that it was coming towards the end of an RAE period and that because he would be in Malaysia and did not have to be retuned anyway, he gave a frank appraisal of 4, that being of the Claimant’s potential. Now because there is something he is trying to conceal, he is trying to back down from that. We now know what the something is [paragraph 6.98].
“As far Professor Wright’s evidence that the “4” rating was a “mistake” Mrs. Marshall says to us that, as far as she is concerned, she transcribed Professor Wright’s post-it notes accurately when giving instructions to t0he university’s solicitors. We think she would” [paragraph 6.100].
It is remotely credible that Professor Wright would not ask what an RR65 questionnaires is? Indeed it remotely credible that Professor Wright, who had already branded the Claimant as a “serial litigant” would not, in passing at least, have had a conversation with Professor Bruce and Fenn to mention Mr. Deman, particularly at time when Mr. Deman was actively threatening proceedings against the University?” [paragraph 6.110].
Professor Wright & Professor Bruce and Professor Gow:
“Whereas Professors Greenway and Berry and Ennew saved the university from a far worse fate than may have befallen it, Professor Bruce and Wright quite literally added insult to injury. To cover up what we believe was conscious victimisation, they portrayed the claimant as not being worth the least consideration. Professor Bruce’s rating of him as RAE 2 and Professor Wrights as “3B at best” was not in our view only as Professor Ennew admitted “a tad on the harsh side”, it was high handed, malicious, oppressive and insulting” [paragraph 9.6].
In paragraph 6.104 the Tribunal says as follows: “The relevance of this exercise, therefore, is partly in relation to aggravated damages but mainly the insight it gives into decision making generally, which is relevant in other exercises, and the damage which the evasive and equivocal replies of Professor Wright did to the credibility of the respondent on the victimisation issues”.
Paragraphs 6.107- 6.110 “Professor Bruce savaged Mr. Deman’s CV and not in the same way Professor Greenway did. …Our finding in relation to this post is that Professor Gow and Bruce had done nothing the chances of the Claimant being given this job were zero. But they did not do nothing”.
In paragraph 6.110 it says:
“Is it remotely credible that Professor Bruce would not ask what an RR65 questionnaires is?”
In it’s finding the tribunal said Prof Gow:
“We are convinced Professor Gow was not only determined that Professor Sinclair would not make an idiosyncratic short listing decision but also determined that whatsoever else was short listed Mr Deman would not be. He therefore chose panel which would ensure that, briefing Professor Bruce, and then to be certain turning up himself. We believe Mrs Marshall’s recollection is accurate” [paragraph 8.14].
For the Nottingham jobs, meetings were held to draw up shortlists for the three posts. Prof Gow had asked a colleague, Professor Alistair Bruce, to be part of the recruitment process. The tribunal's findings stated: "Professors Gow and Bruce were at those job exercises to make sure Mr Deman did not get on to the shortlist and therefore could not be appointed” [paragraph 8.18].
The three-man panel said, Professor Gow need not have said anything against Mr Deman during the selection process. But "his mere presence would have been ample to ensure none of his colleagues would have contemplated short listing Mr Deman for fear of upsetting Prof Gow" [paragraph 8.15].
“… We believe arrangements were made by Professor Gow to make doubly certain that the Claimant would not get a job...”[paragraph 6.110].
“We find nonsensical explanations for not short-listing Mr. Deman” [paragraph 6.114].
“To say therefore that his publications did not “exhibit” appropriate disciplinary orientation is nonsense” [paragraph 6.121]”.
Further, the Court of Appeal also reversed the decision of Justice Lindsay President of EAT against the AUT, Mr Triesman and others. As to Mr Deman’s successes in the EAT it has reversed the decisions of London Tribunal in Deman v London Business School, Sheffield Tribunal in Deman v University of Sheffield & Professor Owen and Croydon Tribunals in Deman v Dr Coates and restored initial decision that Dr Coates was guilty of racial discrimination.
In view of the findings against the Director of Personnel [University of Greenwich] and Pro-Vice-Chancellor & Director of Business Schools [University of Nottingham] Mr Deman requested both the unions, NATFHE & AUT that the above decisions receive publicity as the findings of the Tribunals are of wider public interest. He also requested them to take up the matters with the CRE to order an investigation into these institutions due to the nature of findings against their top officials. When Mr Deman cross-examined Mr Mackney at the Tribunal, his telling reply to the tribunal was, “I do not want to send the wrong signals to members”. In fact Mr. Deman did not want to send a wrong signal either but for the right reasons and not as a cover up.
SETTLEMENTS – KINGS COLLEGE, IMPERIAL COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD, UNIVERSITY OF WALES, QUB:
Mr Deman has won on his own in the Tribunals with some assistance of the Council for Ethnic Minority, two claims of victimisation and one of race discrimination and, with the assistance of his QC, three claims against Greenwich. However due to the Respondents and the Tribunals’ starvation tactics this case cost him twice the amount he recovered. He has also settled 6 claims with the assistance of CEM & a colleague from QUB against King’s College, Imperial College, Sheffield University and University of Wales Swansea, and a number of claims against the Queens University of Belfast for substantial amounts. However, the process of litigation is very stressful and the cost of litigation on some matters of principle, which he raised in the superior courts, far exceeded the recovery and the rest of the money he has donated to the charitable organisations. He has taken up cases only to satisfy his conscience and not as a means of profiting from the awards. You may not have read anything about Mr Deman’s successes in the union newsletter or newspaper. On the other hand the union has glorified some less compelling and trivial cases to appear they have been doing something.
GRAPEVINE OR INSTITUTIONALISED RACISM:
Because of findings in Mr Deman’s cases against the HE sector to date, he has been unable to find a job due to grapevine effect as belatedly acknowledged by Mr Kline and the UCU’s recent campaign for race equality although apparently only for tactical reasons to get the support of ethnic minority members in the UCU elections. The Guardian put it very eloquently as follows: “As the UCU today launches its race equality campaign it is high time to ask what is being done? Far from celebrating the growing diversity of UK University staff and students, the HE sector is almost doing the opposite. There has been collective employers in the University sector to tackle race discrimination and racism, or even accept it exists”.
BLACK AGAINST BLACK CARD OR COCONUT CULTURE:
We would like to give a word of caution to ethnic minority members that they should refrain from a stereotype view about white-members as we expect from them. In fact, in our own experience of the US & UK shows that some white professionals take race discrimination more seriously than most of us who may have resigned ourselves to accept it as fait accompli. For example, in Mr Deman’s own cases, the NATFHE, AUT, Law Centre, GCRE and the CRE and some of their black barrister’s & solicitors, individually and collectively betrayed him [and many others] by advising that his claims against the University of Greenwich and Queen’s University of Belfast had no prospects of success. However, when his own solicitors/insurer referred his claims to highly professional white solicitor/counsel their advice turned out to be favourable. Similarly, in the US Mr Clarence Thomas [Afro-American], the then Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission adjudicated on Mr Deman’s claim against the University of Pittsburgh that there were no prospects of success. However, a white American Attorney successfully tried his case on a “no-win” – “no fee” basis. We are not at all surprised when Mr Thomas was appointed as Justice of the US Supreme Court replacing well kwon Civil Right Lawyer, Justice Marshall. This does not mean there are no professional and honest lawyers within the ethnic minority community. Although Mr Deman was successful in many of his claims or they were settled had the Union and/or CRE given him support there would have been even better results.
Similarly, Dr D’Silva approached NATHFE for legal aid against his employer, MMU & others, which was refused on the pretext that he had no merit in his claims. This caused Dr D’Silva a great deal of psychiatric damage and as a result of this he was unable to attend the hearing at the Tribunal. His claim was heard in his absence without the benefit of witnesses and yet the Tribunal found MMU, Dame Alexander Burslem [VC], Bill. Hallam [Director of Human Resources], Professor Barry Plumb [Deputy VC], Mr. Pete Gibb [Human Resources], Professor M. Neal [Pro-VC, Dean] & Ms. J. Dickinson [Principal Lecturer], etc. In fact the Tribunal made unprecedented findings of facts against the senior management of the MMU including the Head of the Department and the Vice Chancellor, [i.e., institutionalised discrimination] although earlier a BME Barrister Mr Mohinderpal Sethi instructed by a BME firm, Shah Solicitor also gave negative advice on the merits. However, NATFHE and its leadership continued to be defiant at the Tribunal about their earlier mistake on assessment of the merits of Dr D’Silva’s claim. Surprisingly, the NATFHE leadership did not hesitate to hide behind a few “so-called” champions of Ethnic minorities in NATFHE [UCU], like Andrew Pike [Anglo-Indian], Peter Jones [Anglo-Burmese], Michael Scot [Anglo-Indian], Roger Kline [Jewish] who shamelessly came forward to defend the heinous acts and discriminatory practices of the Unions. We wonder how anyone could take these people seriously on Equal Opportunities and Race Relations?
Recently on the merger of AUT & NATHFE to form the University College Union [UCU] it introduced a new rule. Under Rule 5.6 of the UCU anyone who dares complain against the UCU & its leadership the union has unfettered power to refuse legal aid and other services to fight discrimination and assistance in other matters. We consider the above rule not only draconian but contrary to Sections 2 & 11 of RRA 1976 & SDA as it has wider implication on the rights of union members. Recently, the first hammer fell on Dr D’Silva and Mr Deman when the UCU refused legal services to them on the erroneous basis of a conflict of interest. The conflict being complaints against the Union & its leadership. He pledged to fight it at all level of justice to repeal the above rule. Surprisingly, some so-called BME leaders like Mr Gulam William, Gargie Bhattacharya, Michael Scot, Mr Kline, Peter Jones, Andrew Pike and others were party to the creation of the above rule and in denial of legal assistance by Mr. Neil Williamson, Paul Mackney, Sally Hunt, etc.
In fact the leadership along with the employers united against the victims and their conduct could be summarised as Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT puts it very eloquently, "We are your masters and you shine our shoes. Any weaker enemy has to be crushed so that the right lessons are taught" [see, Noam Chomsky's article in Guardian Weekly 1991].
OLD WINE IN A NEW BOTTLE:
Recently you may have read in the THES the controversy surrounding Sally Hunt v Mackney who are blaming each other for their own failures and betrayals of union members. You should not be confused by this staged managed debate and EO public relations exercise, as they are two sides of the same coin. They also have recruited a few members from the ethnic minority to carry on their bandwagon. This is high time to focus on effective leadership and at least elect a few people who could keep these self-seekers in line with the interests of the union members.
TRIBUNALS JUSTICE – A MIRAGE:
Our own experiences and those of others whom we have helped, in the cases of discrimination, victimization and breaches of Human Rights have demonstrated the difficulty that an individual has in trying to get justice under UK law and especially within the tribunal system. Regrettably it has also demonstrated to me the lack of effective support that is given to such individuals by the academic unions and pro employer individuals within the unions.
Basically the tribunal system which was supposed to allow the individual the opportunity to represent him or herself, or have their union represent him or her to resolve employment difficulties in a rather informal setting, and at little or no costs has now turned out to be a battleground where the individual is faced with employers fielding huge legal teams including QCs who often intimidate the poorer qualified chairmen. The employment legislation actually calls for an “equality of arms” between parties but with employers spending literally hundreds of thousands in legal fees to defend the action and quite minor awards given to successful applicants – the “scales of justice” are very heavily tilted against applicants seeking justice and especially applicants representing themselves in the absence of legal aid.
The Commission for Racial Equality not only has very limited funds but she is also toothless. The academic unions have a poor history of representation or committing funds to paying for representation for its members. In fact, on an Asian woman's [CRE complaint Officer] claim the CRE were found guilty of discrimination by the Central London Tribunal and complaints of the professionals from the Indian Subcontinent are still pending against the CRE. Thus it is almost impossible to get justice and the individual academic, like Mr Deman have often come into conflict not only with his or her employer but also the tribunal system and his or her union.
Any academic who considers that he or she can have confidence that in the event of employment related problems they will have the support of the union and its officials is likely to find what Mr Deman and others have found i.e. that their confidence will have been misplaced. As we have stated the stark choices facing the individual academic will be to continue suffer the injustice or embark on a similarly difficult path to that which Mr Deman has trodden for the last number of years.
No individual or his or her family should be faced with such a choice and that is why Mr Deman has chosen to stand for this position. He is standing for this position, not to pursue any vendetta against the current or past leadership of the unions, but to give any individual, no matter what their colour or creed, a strong defender WITHIN the trade union rather than have them face the costs, trials and tribulations of actions WITHOUT the union or even worst AGAINST it.
If Mr Deman got elected you have our personal commitment to work tirelessly within and without the union to make it truly and effectively Pro EMPLOYEE and not Pro EMPLOYER in employment disputes, and to commit the funds and resources necessary to give academics effective protection against any form of discrimination, victimisation or employment related pressure. In short to do what others and we consider a Union should do!
Council for Ethnic Minority Tribunals_racialbias@yahoo.co.uk
Union of Greek Professionals, Portuguese Professional Association, Minority Ethnic Group, Sri Lankan Professional Organisation, Iranian Scholars Association, NI Professional & Students Organisation, Indian Cultural Society 2000, Ethnic Minority Council Scotland, India-America Society, Employment Tribunal Consumers' Association, NI Human Rights Watch Group for Ethnic Minority, Ethnic Minority Women Association, Overseas Professional Association, etc.