SCOTLAND’S biggest teaching union has been accused of racism after encouraging a teacher not to take action against her employer.
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 Edinburgh Council to an employment tribunal.
Mrs Kaur, who worked as an English as an Additional Language teacher at a city primary, claims the EIS would not have given that advice to a white teacher.
The former teacher at Sciennes Primary is taking the EIS – which represents 50,000 teachers – and three employees to an employment tribunal claiming race discrimination.
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 as she tried to progress in her career.
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 [Colin McKay] rang me up saying 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 [Employment Tribunal 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 [Employment Tribunal complaint]? He said it more than once and on quite a number of occasions to drop the [complaint] which would have been to my detriment. Would he have said that to anyone else?”
Mrs Kaur has also accused two other EIS officials, David McGinty and Andrew Morrice, of discriminating against her because of her race.
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 represented by her husband, Dr Prim Singh.
Dr Singh, a scientist who worked on the Dolly the Sheep project, recently re-launched his own race discrimination claim against the world-famous Roslin Institute.
Dr Prim Singh won a claim of unfair dismissal against the Lothians-based organisation five years ago but his discrimination allegations were rejected.
Now the 45-year-old has gone to the Court of Session to try to persuade Scotland’s top judges that the employment tribunal made a mistake.
If he succeeds, Indian-born Singh will start new legal proceedings against Roslin, which made headlines when it cloned Dolly.
The hearing against the EIS continues.