Protest: Restore funding to ESOL: don’t scapegoat migrants

Outside Downing Street,
Whitehall SW1
Wednesday 27 January 2016, 6pm

Called by London Region UCU
Supported by Action for ESOL and Stop the War Coalition

UCU London Region, jointly with Stand Up to Racism, is calling an emergency demonstration on Wednesday 27th January at 6:00pm outside Downing Street.

Speakers include

  • Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President FE
  • Danielle Tiplady, student nurse fighting cuts to the student bursaries
  • Maz Saleem, Stop the War Coalition

Many colleagues will have been shocked and angered to hear Muslims scapegoated in a radio interview by David Cameron for not integrating into British society because they don’t speak English.

He announced £20m ‘extra’ funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) as part of a plan to ‘integrate’ Muslim women.

This is a scandal. There has been a furore in the press and I’m calling on you to join me next Wednesday at Downing Street to challenge this.

The sheer hypocrisy is staggering when people are desperate to learn English and are being turned away because of funding cuts by this and the last government he led.

ESOL funding has been cut by £160m since 2008. £45m was cut in the summer two weeks before the start of the new term, on top of the 24% cut to the Adult Skills Budget earlier last year.

It is frustrating to see the PM try to make political capital out of our students when we know the reality is that they are being denied the right to learn English. David Cameron did exactly the same thing in the summer when he spoke about how women needed English, and then went on to cut ESOL provision two days later.

Two thirds of ESOL students are women. They were the hardest hit by cuts and £20m will fall far short of what is necessary, especially when we consider that how many ESOL providers have lengthy waiting lists. At Lambeth College where I teach ESOL, the number of teachers has been cut from 65 to 31 in the last 18 months.

The language the PM used to single out Muslims is both inflammatory and islamophobic. It’s part of a racist narrative that says people don’t want to learn English and don’t want to integrate. It simply isn’t true. David Cameron suggests that if Muslim parents don’t speak English this could lead their children to become terrorists. It is dangerous to conflate these issues.

If the government are saying 850,000 people need English. Why only target a small proportion of Muslims? People of other faiths, or non, as well as men need to speak English too.

The government will implement plans in October for spousal migrants (and their children) to take a test after two and a half years to demonstrate English language improvement or face deportation.

His comments have caused widespread concern and criticism including from Baroness Warsi, John Prescott MP, Andy Burnham MP, Shabana Mahmood MP, Leader of the Lib Dems Tim Farron, Michael Rosen, Sally Hunt UCU General Secretary and more.

We should condemn these comments and call on David Cameron to restore ESOL funding and stop scapegoating Muslims.

We should promote the Action for ESOL Manifesto and hold meetings with local MPs and in our colleges and communities on it to restart a debate about what is required.

More urgently we have to unite to speak out and stop Islamophobia and scapegoating of Muslims in our schools, colleges and communities.

Join me on Wednesday.

What we want:

Mandy Brown
UCU London Regional (FE) Secretary
& Action for ESOL

* According to the Daily Mail, the PM’s proposal is that the women would be expected to have reached the A2 – elementary – level after two-and-a-half years, and B1 – intermediate – after five years.

Press

29 April: Planning meeting for UCU Anti-Casualisation Day 2014

Dear London Region colleague,

This year’s national Anti-Casualisation Day of Action is on 7 May.

At the last London Region meeting we agreed to build for a successful day.

We’ve organised a planning meeting for Tues 29th April at UCL.

flyer

From your branch, could you get a couple of your most active casualised / hourly paid colleagues to the meeting, along with a branch rep? We hope this will be a good opportunity for casualised colleagues to meet each other, get more involved and build for a successful campaigning day on 7 May.

The meeting is Tues 29 April 6.00pm.
UCL, Room B15, Darwin Building, Malet Place, WC1E 6BT
A map is below.

How to find the Darwin Building, UCL

How to find the Darwin Building, UCL

Stop the Sale of Lambeth College Brixton Centre!

The management and board of governors of Lambeth College are planning to sell off the Brixton Centre to property developers.

The Brixton centre runs courses for students with learning difficulties and disabilities, for young people who need a second chance at education and for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students who need English to improve their lives.

These courses are essential for the community of Brixton and for the borough of Lambeth, where many people are in low-paid jobs, are unemployed or don’t speak English and desperately need education to improve their situation.

Please join the campaign to stop education attacks and stop the sell-off of the Brixton Centre of Lambeth College.

Youth Employment is now over 1 million. 60% of young black men are unemployed – so why are FE colleges being sold off?

Stop the Sell-Off – Join the Campaign – Brixton Needs a College!

What you can do

  • Join the lobby of the governors meeting 5pm Thursday 14th November – 45 Clapham Common Southside (Clapham Common Tube)
  • Join the lobby of Lambeth Council 6pm Wednesday 20th November – Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton

Zero tolerance for zero-hours contracts

Zero-hours contracts have no place in Higher Education

Wednesday November 13 2013, 5.30pm

Public Meeting

London Metropolitan University, GCG08
(Tower Building opposite Holloway Road Tube Station)

Speakers to include: John McDonnell MP (tbc), Liz Lawrence (Vice President UCU), Katherine West (Leader Labour Group Islington Council), John Fox (Branch Chair Bakers Union Hovis), Jane Thompson (UCU HPL National Officer) plus UCU Member Edinburgh University

Jointly organised by London Met UCU, UNISON and Students Union

In some universities as many as half of all staff are on zero hours contracts.

The revelation that Zero Hours contracts (where the contract does not name a minimum number of hours to be worked) are used in Higher Education will come as a shock to many. Such contracts have been widely publicised in industries such as clothing (Sports Direct) and food retail (MacDonalds) but their use in universities has until now been under- reported. In fact the Higher Education sector is the second most casualised in the UK! The widespread use of ‘Hourly-Paid Lecturers’(HPLs) by universities is one example of the practice but it also applies to many technical and admin staff.

Zero-hours contracts give the employee only minimal rights. They lack job security, proper facilities or holiday pay and many have no access to sick pay or opportunities for professional development. HPLs have little control over their job and can’t plan their working life as their timetable can be changed without warning. Yet they have to hold themselves ready for any work that is going. Both the HPLs and the students they teach lose out in this system which can result in cuts and course changes to suit management priorities without proper consultation.

But the trend towards zero hours can be stopped and reversed. UCU members in Edinburgh University have forced management to stop using such contracts and strike action at Hovis in Wigan won permanent contracts for casualised workers. Others can do the same. Join our campaign for decent contracts for all hourly paid lecturers at all Universities in London.

Come to the meeting at London Met and help develop a charter for zero-hours workers.

See also: