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School caretaker plans rooftop protest against eviction threat

GMB branch secretary faces losing his home

27 September, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Dennis McNulty

A PRIMARY school caretaker says he has been made redundant for carrying out union duties and has vowed to stage a rooftop protest if he is evicted from his family home.

Dennis McNulty, branch secretary of Camden GMB, was hand-delivered a final redundancy notice by New End Primary School, Hampstead, on Friday afternoon.

He has lived with his family in the four-bedroom converted pub in Streatley Place that is “tied-in” to the residential premises manager job he has held since 1992.

Camden Council has since 2014, when Mr McNulty was elected a full time GMB rep, followed standard “secondment” regulations by paying New End School to hire a replacement caretaker in his absence.

But New End has now made his post redundant following a “restructure”. The school is hoping to utilise the caretaker’s house.

Mr McNulty, who is contesting the redundancy under trade union legislation, said: “I can’t be in two places at once. So the council pay for the school to get a replacement of me. The school has written to the council complaining that they are not getting enough. Now they have made me redundant, basically so then they can take back the house.“This is a clear eviction. If I’m going to lose my home for carrying out my union duties, I’ll be boarding up the windows mate – I’ll be getting on the roof and fighting this.”

Mr McNulty has submitted an application to the employment tribunal court that states “the principal reason for his dismissal was as a result of his union membership and/or activity, namely the claimant’s absence due to being seconded into a branch secretary role with the GMB union.”

Mr McNulty went to Haverstock secondary school as a boy and has lived and worked in Camden all his life. He added: “There are 52 residential caretakers in Camden right now, and that’s just housing. If they manage to do this to the trade union branch secretary, they’ll be saying – if we have done this Dennis, we can do it to everyone else.”

The New Journal has previously reported how Richard Cobden in Camden Town, Edith Neville in Somers Town and St Paul’s in Primrose Hill primary schools sought evictions against long-standing caretakers in a battle for tied-in property.

Camden’s housing chief Labour councillor Meric Apak said: “We invite Mr McNulty to fill in a housing application, so that we can fully assess his family’s needs. We should then be able to offer him an alternative council home.”

Linda Davies, the chair of governors at the school, said: “This is an ongoing process. We will be able to give a full update once it has been resolved.”

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