Elaine White (Bradford College)

Election address

I am a woman teaching 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. However, since the outrageous cutbacks on provision in the summer, I transferred to teaching English in other FE departments.

I am impressed by the work done by activists in UCU to ensure the voices of women are heard. Nationally, high-profile positions are currently held by women and this has encouraged me to stand for election.

In my branch, we have seen many women come to the fore: 4 out of 7 officers are women and additionally we have many women reps. This is to be celebrated. In contrast, there is a pronounced lack of women in senior management roles currently at my institution and doubtless elsewhere.

Casualisation is a women's issue. I know women who feel they have no option but to stay on hourly-paid contracts due to family responsibilities. Zero-hour contracts mean fewer CPD opportunities and thus further barriers in career advancement.

Cuts in ESOL is a women's issue because 66% of ESOL learners are women and therefore these cuts have a disproportionate negative impact on women's access to education.

Women as main carers for children, family members with disabilities and older relatives are on the sharp end of government austerity cuts. Changes to welfare support will not help the lives of both vulnerably employed women lecturers and students.

The government's current FE strategy, to merge colleges, could see extra travel and so more barriers to participation especially for those with child and care responsibilities.

I bring experience of local and regional campaigning that I would like to share nationally. I took an active role in our local dispute over jobs. I also initiated a local network of ESOL practitioners and supporters to campaign against the cuts.

As a UCU Left member, I want to see a strong, member-led UCU that campaigns for and wins better pay, secure working and living 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