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Chapter 9 - At work in the regions

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General Council Report

Chapter 9

At work in the regions

Introduction The regional and local dimensions to the TUC's work are an important as a practical means of implementing the policies and priorities determined by Congress and the General Council. They also provide points of contact with trade unionists in the workplace and in the community. This section covers the work undertaken by the TUC through its regional machinery, services and representational structures: the TUC Education Service, Regional Councils, Trades Union Councils, Unemployed Workers' Centres and, not least, TUC officers and staff.

Two major initiatives were undertaken in the past year: extending the Bargaining for Skills projects to all regions and completing the accreditation of TUC courses provided regionally. Support and implementation of policy objectives was also carried out through the regional machinery on such priority projects as the employment rights campaign and the new unionism project.

9.1 TUC Education Service The General Council have continued to maintain their commitment to the TUC Education Service's core programme of ten-day stage 1 and stage 2 courses for stewards and safety representatives. Course enrolments have remained steady despite loss of membership by affiliates and the difficulties faced by many trade representatives in obtaining their legal rights to paid release for training. The statistics for 1996 show a continuing and steady demand for the range of core courses with an increase in demand for specialist course along with a surge of enrolments in the area of evening classes and own-time study programmes. Although the budget for short courses has had to be reduced since the loss of the government grant, they remain an important feature of the programme focussed upon TUC priorities and particular initiatives involving groups of affiliates.

The past three or four years have seen rapid and radical changes in the Further Education (FE) sector. The TUC's Regional Education Service depends to a very high degree on its partnerships and long-standing links with Colleges of Further Education and the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) and it is remarkable that through the efforts of TUC Regional Education Officers, colleges and WEA staff, these partnerships have been maintained and, in many cases, improved through the development of accreditation of TUC courses (see below). In some cases, regional course programmes have been reduced and concentrated on fewer providing bodies in order to reduce the number of courses which are economically unviable for colleges. Although this exercise will have disappointed a number of course providers working with the TUC, the economic imperatives of today's FE colleges mean that courses which fail to attract sufficient numbers are removed from

the programme. This exercise will also introduce more certainty into the programme for union representatives applying for places by reducing course cancellations.

Although funding changes have made life difficult for many FE colleges, the TUC has enjoyed excellent relationships with the Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) inspectorate who have inspected and reported on TUC courses. These inspections have helped to improve quality assurance measures and to spread best practice in education standards. The TUC has retained its status as an awarding body recognised by the Department for Education for Employment (DfEE) and the FEFC. The TUC wishes to record its appreciation of the significant contribution made by colleges, the WEA, their staff and those trade unionists who serve on Regional Education Advisory Committees in maintaining and developing the TUC Education Service.

9.2 Accreditation in the TUC Education Service

The development of an accreditation system for the TUC's regional courses has been a priority area of work for almost three years. The project entered its completion phase when the General Council formally approved the introduction of accreditation of TUC courses in November 1995. Accreditation provides course participants with the opportunity to opt for assessment against national standards for learning achievement - in this case the national standards are those originally developed for union representatives by the TUC and the trade union lead body. The General Council's decision to work with the National Open College Network (NOCN) on setting up a national accreditation system for TUC courses was widely welcomed and supported by trade union education professionals as one which would help the TUC to raise standards without sacrificing sensitivity, flexibility and control by the TUC.

From January to March 1996 a number of pilots of the new units of credit within the TUC's ten-day courses for stewards and safety representatives took place in three regions. In the following term (April to June), a full set of pilots took place in all regions. These pilots were carefully evaluated and an amended set of units was submitted to the NOCN panel in July 1996. Simultaneously, the TUC organised pilots for the new units of credit in TUC specialist courses, short courses and evening class certificated courses; this phase of the work will be completed this summer. The pilots provided a good deal of practical suggestions covering both the content of the credit units themselves and pedagogical issues around managing accreditation in active learning courses. From September 1997, the TUC Education Service will be able to offer all TUC course participants the option of gaining credits for achievement in learning; credits which relate directly to the skills and knowledge required by union representatives and which have genuine currency in the wider world of education and training, and which contribute to the national training targets.

Take-up of credits by union representatives A fundamental principle established in the initial stages of the project was that of

voluntarism on the part of trade union representatives attending courses. Although all the evidence suggested that accreditation would be an incentive for representatives to engage in training and that the bulk of union representatives would welcome the opportunity to earn nationally-recognised credits currency, it was axiomatic that the decision to register for assessment must rest solely with the learner. Tutor training has also focused on how to advise and support union representatives considering the option for assessment and how to manage courses where some participants had registered for credits and others had not. Whilst it is too early to try and establish detailed statistics, a snapshot of each region reveals remarkably high levels both of take-up and achievement by trade union representatives on TUC courses and, consequently, a very smooth transition from accredited attendance to accredited achievement. Taking one region as an example, registration for credits on the ten-day course programme is about 94 per cent of all enrolments, of which 90 per cent achieve credits mostly at levels two and three (the higher end of the levels available). The principal explanation for non- achievement was that registered participants were unable to complete the course for a range of reasons. Another region's snapshot survey shows approximately 77 per cent registering for accreditation and 94 per cent of those registering achieved credits at levels two and three. The current fee for each unit of credit is in the range of £2.00 to £5.00 and agreement to waive this has been reached between the TUC and an increasing number of colleges. It is important to state that the TUC has not sought to pressure FE institutions on this issue where the waiving of fees would have a negative effect on facilities or staffing offered by a particular college.

Progression Work is taking place to ensure that the TUC credits will provide pathways into other vocational qualifications. Developments in the post-sixteen education and training field mean that trade union education credits can be used to extend access to further and higher education. The skills of trade union representatives are now recognised in a national system of credits which can be used in a range of ways to provide access to further learning. It is now generally recognised that around sixteen NOCN credits at levels two and three are equivalent to two or three 'A' levels and therefore qualify for University admission in a related area of study. Work is under way to 'kite mark' certain TUC courses and credits for automatic access to higher education.

Affiliated unions National Union Education Officers have been involved with and supportive of the accreditation process from its initial stages and professional and voluntary trade union officers have been consulted closely through the working groups and the pilots. A number of affiliated unions are in the process of accrediting their own courses, or part of their course programme. As a consequence of this project, the TUC has built up an experienced team which can assist in accrediting trade union programmes through defining learning outcomes, writing assessment criteria and preparing units for recognition panels. Additionally, unions may, on request, access the TUC's national credit units for use on appropriate courses. The TUC has also developed a three-day course for union education professionals covering

accreditation and assessment which will be piloted in 1997. The course will offer participants the opportunity to achieve a TUC credit at level three.

Scotland In the initial stages of the development of this project, NOCN were unable to offer a service for much of Scotland, as their coverage extended no further than the Borders. The TUC Regional Education Service in Scotland has been instrumental in setting up a service covering the whole of Scotland and enabling Scottish trade union representatives to access the same national TUC credit units as elsewhere in the UK. This has also helped NOCN to expand its work in Scotland considerably.

Limitations At present, TUC accreditation can only be achieved through attendance on courses. This means that those union representatives who have successfully completed TUC courses in the past are unable to receive formal acknowledgement, through national credits, of their learning achievements. This has lead to some demand for accreditation of prior learning and of skills developed over time, which cannot be satisfied through the present NOCN system. Currently, such a demand can only be met by putting in place a S/NVQ for union representatives (stewards) and safety representatives, which would provide opportunities for assessment for experienced representatives and those who have previously completed a programme of study. In a further development, both the TUC Education Service and the National Education Centre are working on producing national standards, based upon appropriate standards in the professional officer S/NVQs, suitable for experienced stewards. These standards will assist unions in training potential officers and could be used to support career development for individual representatives who wish to follow such a route. Standards for safety representatives The project development group (consisting of union education officers, tutors and TUC staff) which oversaw the development of the trade union representatives' standards has been reconvened to undertake the development of standards for trade union appointed safety representatives. A series of focus groups (including one specifically for union health and safety specialists) examining draft standards will take place during 1997. It is intended that, after a number of consultative stages, a final set of standards for health and safety representatives will be produced under the auspices of the Employment Occupational Standards Council (EOSC) on which the TUC is represented by General Council members, union national officers and TUC staff. The EOSC, which has national responsibility for non-expert occupational health and safety standards, has agreed to provide some funding for the project. Tutor training and development Throughout the development process the active co-operation and involvement of trade union tutors and education officers has been crucial. In January 1996 a national tutor training and development week was held at the National Education Centre for forty tutors from all the TUC regions. The week combined tutor training

and information with developmental and course writing work and became the model for a subsequent series of regional tutor briefings. Tutors were actively involved at all levels of the pilot process and their experience was invaluable in securing practical yet rigorous learning options. The significant change which standards- based learning outcomes represents has also led to the design of a new development programme for TUC tutors. In the current year the TUC will pilot a completely new system of accrediting the TUC's tutor training programmes which will offer tutors the opportunity to achieve level 3 credits entitled 'Teaching and Learning' and which, in due course, will be integrated with the Training and Development Lead Body national standards (now part of the Employment Occupation Standards Council). This development will enable TUC Regional Education Officers to maintain a register of briefed and approved tutors for TUC courses from the point at which they enter the TUC scheme, enabling joint determination of development needs and opportunities for tutors. To assist this the TUC will also produce a tutors' manual which will provide a national standard for quality assurance in all TUC Education Service courses.

Outcomes of the accreditation project The TUC now has and will have over the next year:

  • national standards for trade union representatives;
  • national standards for health and safety representatives; a national framework for accreditation of learning by trade union representatives through the National Open College Network;
  • units of credit providing recognition for achievement covering the entire TUC Education Service programme of courses;
  • a trade union education system which provides recognised pathways into further learning and training opportunities;
  • an improved and accredited system of tutor training.
  • recognition by the DfEE and the FEFC. 9.3 Other developments and activities in the TUC Education Service

    The TUC Certificate in Trade Union and Industrial Studies has been awarded "Kitemarked Access to Higher Education" status and discussions continue with representatives of higher education about access for mature learners. The new Advanced Certificate in Occupational Safety and Health has been successfully piloted and accredited, and work will begin this year to develop open learning options.

    Work is being undertaken to produce an interactive computerised database enabling access to the trade union standards, units of credit and course options to guide both union representatives and trade union education professionals through the information. Tutors' manuals on European Works Councils and "New Unionism: Winning the Workplace" have been produced, and a new Stage 2 tutors' manual will be launched at the end of this year.

    Seminars for full time officers and senior union representatives have also been organised on current issues and TUC priorities, including pensions, health and safety, European Works Councils, the Disability Discrimination Act and the Working Time Directive. Some resources are also devoted to arranging trade union studies for young people and school students 9.4 European partnerships in trade union education

    The TUC Education Service continues to be involved in transnational work with European national centres and the ETUC at both national and regional level. In the South West partnership work in the New Opportunities for Women (NOW) programme with CISL (Italy)and INE-GSE (Greece), produced an innovatory package for accrediting prior learning of women trade unionists. The General Secretary opened trade union telematics units in Paisley and Manchester simultaneously through a video conference link. The TUC telematics centre at Reid Kerr College, Paisley was funded in partnership with the EU ADAPT programme, the Renfrewshire Local Enterprise Company (LEC) and a substantial contribution from local businesses. Courses that will assist union representatives to use the World Wide Web, publish on the Internet and use telematics for collective bargaining are offered at both centres.

    In the South East the TUC is a partner in a project under the Leonardo programme focussing on the mainstreaming of education provision for women trades unionists. Other partners include CISL (Italy) and FNV (Netherlands).

    TUC Education Service statistics, 1996

    Table 1: Union workplace representatives: Courses 1996

    Region
    Union officials
    Safety representatives
    Specialist courses
    Short courses
    Totals
    Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 1 Stage 2
    South & East 51 14 66 24 6 230 391
    South West 13 6 42 14 12 88 175
    West Midlands 44 15 41 17 18 71 206
    East Midlands 15 6 18 7 2 28 76
    Yorks & Humberside 29 11 26 13 15 137 231
    North West 65 23 69 41 81 218 497
    Northern 18 6 23 11 7 86 151
    Wales 17 6 24 10 8 20 85
    Scotland 26 8 40 10 16 77 177
    Totals 278 95 349 147 165 955 1989

    Table 2: Union workplace representatives: Students 1996

    Region
    Union officials
    Safety representatives
    Specialist courses
    Short courses
    Totals
    Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 1 Stage 2
    South & East 636 108 888 330 109 1900 3971
    South West 144 49 412 119 140 1045 1909
    West Midlands 556 180 483 166 136 1670 3191
    East Midlands 170 56 253 86 21 289 875
    Yorks & Humberside 410 109 342 164 154 1912 3091
    North West 644 208 717 372 919 2373 5233
    Northern 225 68 295 119 55 970 1732
    Wales 224 53 299 121 85 249 1031
    Scotland 278 83 439 107 193 420 1520
    Totals 3287 914 4128 1584 1812 10,828 22,553
    Women 27% 21% 25% 20% 31% 37% 31%

    Table 3: Short course students by Generic Course Title 1996

    Generic TitleStudents

    Industrial Relations/Collective Bargaining 3132 Health and Safety 1945 Induction 2501 Equality 650 Skills 1978 Other 622 TOTAL 10,828 Table 4: TUC Day Release and Short Courses Provision 1986 - 1996

    Year
    Union Officials Stage 1 & 2
    Health & Safety Stage 1 & 2
    Follow-on / Specialist
    Short Courses
    Evening Classes
    Totals
    Courses
    Students
    Courses
    Students
    Courses
    Student s
    Courses
    Students
    Courses
    Students
    Courses
    Students
    1986-87 762 9546 565 6973 76 812 1183 14401 2586 31750
    1987-88 792 9475 568 6944 106 1134 1097 13083 2563 30636
    1988-89 708 8408 560 6539 132 1305 1261 15142 2665 31394
    1989-90 637 7296 584 7065 92 885 1552 19594 2865 34840
    1990-91 613 6794 581 6741 83 809 1340 15529 2617 29873
    1991-92 546 6454 543 6635 95 1014 1329 16402 2513 30505
    1992 512 6045 521 6457 101 1035 1198 15549 2332 29086
    1993 394 4728 523 6775 110 1268 1380 18209 2407 30980
    1994 401 4520 498 5988 98 1013 1088 14036 80 1054 2165 26611
    1995
    395
    4503 472 5733 118 1335 900 10496 84 967 1969 23034
    1996 373 4201 496 5712 165 1812 955 8570 138 2646 2127 22941
    Note: The statistical information from 1992 onwards relates to the calendar year, whereas in previous years it was reported on a fiscal year basis.
    Evening Classes were provided prior to 1994 but details were not recorded.
    Table 5: Percentage Take-up of Places on TUC 10-day and short courses 1996 (Unions with 0.5 per cent and upwards of total affiliated membership)

    Total Affiliated Membership 6,799,619 Total Number of Students Attending TUC Day-Release Courses 11,725 Total Number of Students Attending TUC Short Courses 10,828

    Union% of total TUC% take-up of TUC course places: membership10-day coursesshort courses UNISON 19 .93 24 .96 32 .16 T&GWU 13 .19 15 .55 8 .28 GMB 10 .89 8 .37 16 .76 AEEU 10 .67 12 .52 4 .29 MSF 6 .56 3 .98 5 .44 USDAW 4 .17 2 .71 8 .11 CWU 4 .05 0 .94 0 .92 GPMU 3 .19 3 .85 2 .34 NUT 2 .58 0 .11 0 .10 NASUWT 2 .31 0 .01 0 .02 BIFU 1 .82 0 .24 0 .87 CPSA 1 .79 2 .85 0 .95 PTC 2 .22 4 .09 4 .47 UCATT 1 .57 1 .72 1 .1 IPMS 1 .16 0 .47 0 .17 NATFHE 1 .04 1 .10 3 .53 RMT 0 .87 4 .48 0 .38 ISTC 0 .81 0 .45 0 .05 FBU 0 .80 2 .09 4 .13 NUKFAT 0 .64 0 .93 0 .12

    EIS 0 .73 0 .005 0 .24

    9.5 Bargaining for Skills

    There is now at least one Bargaining for Skills project in each TUC region and in Wales (in Scotland this work is taken forward by the STUC in partnership with the Local Enterprise Councils). Twenty project workers are engaged to work with TUC Regional Secretaries and Regional Education Officers in promoting vocational training through partnerships with TECs, employers, unions and local colleges. (See also chapter 2) . 9.6 TUC Regional Councils' Consultative Committee The RCCC consisting of the Chairs and Secretary of the Regional Council, has met following Congress and the special General Council meeting in October 1996. In carrying out the recommendation of the Regional Machinery Review Group, that the TUC should maintain and elevate the RCCC meeting in importance as a key briefing, the Chairs of Regional Education Advisory Committees and the TUC Regional Education Officers also attended the meeting. The general secretary addressed the Committee on the key priorities identified by the General Council for the TUC's work programme for 1996/97. The Committee had the opportunity to comment on their regional application and significance and on a range of TUC initiatives designed to have an associated regional activity.

    9.7 Regional reports

    Northern The Northern Region has a close working relationship with the Northern Group of Labour MPs which have always had the dominant political influence in this region. Following the election the Northern Region is seeking to maximise opportunities for making a significant contribution to the creation of and participation in the new Northern Regional Development Agency. The TUC's Northern Region has for many years involved itself closely in regional partnership agreements, following the formation in 1986 of the tri-partite Northern Development Company. Partnerships have included employers and the North of England Assembly of Local Authorities working in co-operation with Government Departments, education and training interests, the Tyneside and Teesside Development Corporations, Invest in Britain Bureau, English Partnerships and a wide range of other key regional interests. Under the new arrangements to be announced by the Government, the regional TUC looks forward to playing a significant role in the Regional Development Agencies for the North East and Cumbria.

    A Bargaining for Skills project has been established, jointly funded by the Department for Education and Employment and the five TECs in the region; the project will also promote the Investors in People standard.

    To aid the TUC's promotion of the trade union profile, recruitment and recognition, a Task Group has been formed under the TUC's Partners for Progress/New Unionism

    Programme of Work. The programmes for these projects will stimulate and support a new focus on the organising challenge facing trade unions including the need to present trade unionism to young people in new and attractive ways. The TUC's agenda in Europe will be organised under a newly established European Task Group with a view to promoting a wider regional awareness of the European agenda. A new and increasing role as social partners will be undertaken in influencing policy decisions on resources allo