A message from Roger

The UCU general secretary ballot result has now been declared and Sally Hunt has been elected. The union and our members face major and difficult challenges from employers and government in almost every aspect of our working lives. The turnout was just 13.9 per cent which in itself suggests the scale of the challenge the union faces. I wish Sally Hunt very well in meeting those challenges. To meet them successfully will require a clear strategic vision and a determined articulate response which members can have confidence in and ownership of. I will seek to play my part in ensuring that is the case through my continuing role as Head of Equality and Employment Rights Finally I would like to sincerely thank the hundreds of members who sent messages of support and campaigned during the election.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Monday 5th March

Digby Jones – an apology

In a sentence the Guardian sub-editors removed for reasons of length from my article on further education last Tuesday I described Digby Jones as “aka the fox in the chicken shed of further education”.

I think I may have overstated my case. One of the more encouraging messages – amongst many received – for the very successful ESOL Lobby of Parliament last week was one from the same Digby Jones, former head of the Confederation of British Industry and now the Government’s “Skills Envoy”.He told UCU:"I am concerned that the government has decided to restrict entitlement to free ESOL with potentially damaging results both to workforce efficiency and to social inclusion. This is a damaging, retrograde step in the nation's pursuit of an integrated productive workforce.

Many migrant workers and refugees need training in English, to be aware of their rights, to make a full contribution to society, and to perform efficiently at work; low paid and vulnerable workers will be disproportionately affected by the restrictions in access to free ESOL provision. Linking entitlement for free ESOL to an extremely complex benefits system will exclude many of those who are in need of it.There is no obligation for employers and agencies to meet the cost of English language courses. The Government must rethink the funding mechanisms, particularly for those least able to afford to pay for their own training. Increased ESOL provision should not be at the cost of literacy and numeracy courses for adults which are also vital.Sir Digby JonesUK Skills Envoy"

No more “fox in the chicken shed”?But I’ll keep an eye out for what happens to further and adult education because the DfES/LSC consultation document on the Leitch Report is a disastrous manifesto for privatisation.But credit where it is due, Digby. Meanwhile the ESOL campaign continues – more details at www.ucu.org.uk .

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Old Blogs

A trade unionist all his working life. An activist and a proud campaigner, Roger has consistently worked to defend human rights of workers. As the leader of the Equality and Employment Rights team in the newly formed UCU he continues to unite the movement around equality and keep employment rights at the top of the agenda.