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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/12/2005 - 16:59


Agree with your sentiments. A few extra points.

1) Coats is the director( or similar) of the Partnership Fund which gives out working class taxpayers money to companies and unions promoting 'partnership'. So he would say that wouldn't he.

2) The TUC's learning agenda has been a spectacular failure. Vast amounts of money has been syphoned into projects that have delivered very little for workers. The result is under-utilised computer suites in a few workplaces and large numbers of paper enrolments on on-line aromatherapy courses or other pap.

Where the 'Learning Agenda' does have some bite the economic logic of it is problematic for trade unionists to say the least. I.e. "growing your own" nurses by training up health care assistants is seen by the govt and NHS managers as a way of holding down nurses pay. Similar logic to changes to the school workforce.

By promoting 'individual advancement' and 'career development' in that context the unions are defining themselves as a tool of the govt.

One academic explained to some TUC education bods recently that because there are only so many skilled jobs available in the UK their pet project of 'upskilling' the workforce would either have no impact at all or if it did leave a mark it would be to actually drive down skilled workers wages.

There is a socialist trade unionist way of promoting the 'learning agenda' (I can think of some cracking stuff that has been done by the GMB around ESOL and migrant workers rights for instance) but the 'learning agenda' needs to be linked to miltant organising not counterposed to it.

The fact is most of the 'workplace learning' fostered by the TUC is about making the proles more efficient at working the widgit machines. It is about inventing a role for the TUC as a broker in workplace education and as a 'persuader' for the employers in relation to a sceptical working class and also as a syphon for govt money to employers. It has nothing whatsoever to do with education for liberation. The TUC is a bureaucracy looking for a function and they have fastened on to workplace training as their last hope.

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