Former city teacher takes racism action against union

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SCOTLAND’S biggest teaching union has been accused of racism after encouraging an Edinburgh teacher not to take action against the city council.

Kamaljit Kaur went to the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) with a complaint that fellow teachers were victimising her because of her Indian origins.

The 48-year-old claims an EIS official tried to get her to drop plans to take the council, her employer, to a tribunal.

Mrs Kaur, who worked as an additional English language teacher at Sciennes Primary, claims the EIS would not have given that advice to a white teacher.

The former teacher is now taking the EIS and three employees to an employment tribunal claiming race discrimination.

Mrs Kaur, who was born in Britain and is a UK citizen, is already in the middle of a separate employment tribunal against Edinburgh Council which involves 61 allegations against 15 employees, including race discrimination.

In both cases she is being represented by her husband, Dr Prim Singh, a scientist who worked on the Dolly the Sheep project and who is himself involved in race discrimination proceedings against the world-famous Roslin Institute.

Mrs Kaur said the problems began in 2005 when she raised concerns about a Muslim pupil being bullied. She alleges that following the incident she was exposed to a “hostile working environment” and that she was discriminated against.

Mrs Kaur told the tribunal this week that she went to EIS official Colin McKay for support.

She said Mr McKay became difficult to get hold of and that he offered her “poor” advice.

“He [said] that for mediation to be successful I needed to drop the [employment tribunal complaint] and I remember him talking about costs as well and I believe this was poor advice,” she said.

“I also raised an act of race discrimination because they were standing me up to fail. There was no way that the mediation was going to work, instead he was wanting me to drop the [complaint] which was in my best interests.”

When she was asked by employment judge Rosie Sorell why she thought this meant she was being discriminated against because of her race Mrs Kaur replied: “Because I feel that he wouldn’t have asked anyone else to do that. He was meant to be giving me legal advice to help and support me.”

Instead, she claimed, the advice was “going to disadvantage” her. She added: “Would he have advised any EIS member to drop their [complaint]?”

Mrs Kaur has also accused two other EIS officials, David McGinty and Andrew Morrice, of discriminating against her because of her race.

The hearing against the EIS continues.