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Support colleagues fighting back in FE!

Elaine White (Bradford College)

Election address

I teach English at Bradford College.

My priorities:

  • Opposition to the government strategy of merging and rationalising FE provision;
  • An increase and protection of our pay and pensions;
  • Secure employment for all;
  • The protection of migrants' rights and access to learn English and everyone's access to lifelong learning and training;
  • Increased co-operation between unions and community campaigns, where we have commonality.

I came into FE to teach ESOL. Since the outrageous cutbacks on provision in the summer, I transferred to teaching English in other FE departments.

I am of a generation that is still paying off my student loan. I can't get secure employment and I am 'generation rent'. I face a longer working lifetime with the state-pension-age rising.

FE is my chosen sector, but I am concerned that bright, young teachers are being prevented from seeing it as the rewarding career that it should be. Previous underfunding and cuts, the worrying 16+ area reviews, the prospect of mergers of institutions and the rationalisation of curriculum all contribute to uncertainty and lack of clarity.

I joined UCU when I joined the college in 2009.  I am the hourly-paid rep for my branch and do everything possible to recruit and engage members in our activities. When my branch was in dispute over jobs, I took a key role in the campaign: creating and updating our branch blog, Twitter and Facebook as well as being on the streets over successive Saturdays petitioning the public. As a result we saw no compulsory redundancies.

When the cuts to ESOL came over the summer, I took inspiration from the Action for ESOL campaign group and initiated a network of activists in Yorkshire. I and colleagues took part in National Lobby of Parliament over ESOL and Adult Education which saw 600 people take part. I continue to network and speak at local events to raise the profile of the ESOL plight

UCU needs to do more to support such campaigns. It also needs do more to demand more publicly for better investment in post-16 education and training.

I am a member of UCU Left. I want to see a strong, member-led UCU, that at its heart fights for better pay and secure working conditions for all its members. I want us to use our full strength to promote the vital work we do in the Further and Adult Education and Training Sector.

UCU positions and activities
Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Committee delegate, 2015 - present
Hourly-paid rep Bradford College Branch, 2014 - present
Building rep, 2012-13
Membership Secretary Bradford College ACE Branch, 2010-2011
Delegate to the annual meeting of staff on casual contracts, 2014 and 2015

Last updated: 1 February 2016