UK: UCU: Government education policy is a damaging catalogue of misaligned objectives says new lecturers' leader
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Thu May 31 15:20:57 UTC 2007
UCU: Government education policy is a damaging catalogue of misaligned
objectives says new lecturers' leader Wednesday, 30 May 2007 08:21
Government education policy is a damaging catalogue of misaligned objectives
says new lecturers' leader
Government education policy is a catalogue of misaligned objectives which
are damaging the education system, Britain's standing abroad, social
cohesion and the health service, new UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, will
tell delegates at the union's inaugural congress. Speaking in Bournemouth
today (Wednesday) Sally Hunt will criticise the government's lack of
strategic approach to education policy and cite 'crazy, shameful and
appalling' examples. The new general secretary will also say that she does
not believe boycotting Israeli academics should be a priority for the union,
nor does she think a boycott has the support of the majority of UCU members.
Talking about government policy, Sally Hunt will say: "Even when the policy
is right, the end result is so often wrong. Take English language classes
for foreign speakers, the government champions social cohesion - but access
to courses restricted. Crazy. "Take health, where community care is
prioritised yet our members who train nurses are made redundant to fund NHS
"Take science, where, despite warm words from ministers, we are still
shutting labs almost as fast as they are building them in China. Appalling.
"And take lifelong learning, which ministers tell me is at the heart of the
government's agenda, yet the results of cuts in funding led to a 17%
reduction in adult learners last year.
"This is not education policy. This is a catalogue of misaligned objectives
each with unintended but entirely predictable consequences. The reality of
government policy for too many UCU members is job insecurity, increased
casualisation and higher workloads." Speaking ahead of Wednesday
afternoon's international debate, including motions about a potential
boycott of Israeli academics, Sally Hunt will warn that if UCU is to
criticise the government for lacking a strategic approach, the union must
lead by example. She will say:
"To meet future challenges we have to prioritise and the best way to do this
is to focus on what our members actually want us to do.
"I simply do not believe that the majority of UCU members support an
academic boycott of Israel or that they believe it should be a major
priority for the union.
"Most want us to retain dialogue with trade unionists on all sides - not
just those we agree with. It's the approach we have in Zimbabwe and Colombia
and it's the approach I think we should have here.
"We in this room - including me - do not have the monopoly on wisdom. We
know that a lot of the best ideas come from our branches and we must take
advantage of that. Everybody has a stake in building our new union."
Sally Hunt is speaking in Bournemouth International Centre at 12.15pm at the
first annual Congress of the new UCU union, the largest post-school teaching
union in the world, formed from the merger of AUT and NATFHE. Also speaking
today is be Frances O'Grady, TUC deputy general secretary, and Colombian
trade union leader Eberto Diaz, who will urge support for campaigns to end
the political assassination of teachers and trades unionists in Colombia.
Today's Congress business includes reports and debates on equality, health
and safety, external relations, pensions and employment rights,
international and European work. One motion will highlight calls for UCU to
give guidance on how to deal with bullying and harassment, an increasingly
common experience for lecturers and other staff in further and higher
Another, from UCU members at a horticultural college, urges the union to
press for educational and language training amongst support for the rights
of migrant workers. A motion from lecturers at a London college calls on UCU
to help efforts to combat climate change by negotiating on 'greening the
campus' - to improve workplace energy savings and environmental improvements
- and 'greeting the curriculum' - promoting sustainability throughout all
aspects of teaching. It also calls on the union to review its own practises
and reduce its own 'environmental footprint'.
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