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CYWU`s Response to Interim Paper - Learning for Community Development

Posted on Saturday, January 01, 2000

The Community and Youth Workers’ Union Response to Interim Paper - Learning for Community Development, A Strategic Framework for England.

Introduction

1.1 Given the cycle of CYWU Meetings it has not been possible to engage a full meeting of the Education and Training Committee of the Union in this work. We would hope to give further consideration as the work unfolds and that a member of the Federation may be able to attend the next E&T meeting we hold.

1.2 CYWU’s views on the importance of community work and its particular relationship with trade unionism were set out in its motion on community work, the first ever, passed at the Trades Union Congress in 1999 and in the article written by the Union’s General Secretary in Trade Unions and Community Action - Bridging the Gap, published as Occasional Paper 28 by the William Temple Foundation and Trades Union Congress in 1999, entitled Trade Unions in the Community.

1.2 CYWU has been fully involved in a range of Federation Conferences over the last few years. It will be known that the Union was critical of the mechanistic competency framework imposed by the NVQ models when they first emerged and we predicted that the NVQ would not tolerate the social justice imperatives of community work. We set our views out on the dangers of functional analysis in training in our 1994 booklet The Future of Education and Qualification in Youth and Community Work and the Irrelevance of NVQs.

1.3 In the light of the previous Tory government’s resistance to community development and life generally, CYWU argued that youth, community, community education, adult education and play work should forge stronger political unity. We led the development of the Endorsement of Informal Education Interim Officers’ Group. This was opposed strenuously by the National Youth Agency, but has been interestingly promoted by the new National Training Organisation PAULO.

1.4 CYWU’s general policy bias has been towards community action and development models of community work and formally the union supports the Association of Community Workers, Standing Conference of Community Development and Federation definitions of community work that have been worked on over the last few years.

1.5 In 1998 the Union established with others an international federation of Youth, Community and Play Workers to give more of an opportunity for workers to determine an international agenda and exchange best practice.

1.6 CYWU has a constitutional capacity to structure and fund national occupational groups and community work should be one of these.

1.7 CYWU’s 1992 statement Community Work and Youth Work into the Twenty First Century set out its view of a strategic progressive policy for community work.

1.8 CYWU argued against the previous NYA revision of the composition of the Education and Training Standards Committee which deliberately wrote out the community work voice via FCWTG and campaigned subsequently and eventually successfully to restore this representative position.

1.9 CYWU is represented on the Community Work Forum, Wales and England ETS Committees, PAULO and is the majority union on the staff side of the JNC.

1.10 CYWU has opposed the cuts in community work funding at local level, the recent moves off of JNC terms and conditions for whole community development teams and the closure of some community work departments.

1.11 CYWU sees community work as a discrete occupational specialism and believes that the workers within it need higher value and more organisation through a specialist trade union.

1.12 The Union has been concerned about several interrelated issues in community work:

- The depoliticisation of community work
- The curtailment of independent community activity
- The separation between the trade unions and community organisations
- The failure of community workers to unionise
- The divorce between community work qualifications and the JNC terms and conditions.
- The improvement in community work qualification requirements has not been met by improved terms and conditions or stronger underpinning for the work.
- The difficulty the community work field has had in projecting a national campaign for extending entitlements to community work provision evenly throughout the UK.
- The difficulty the sector has had in separating community worker from community activist, local people from a professional formation.Ironically this difficulty has led to a preponderance of privatised, unelected and often free lance initiatives within community work.

1.13 CYWU has led debate in the sector on the dangers posed by the European Union and in particular the drive towards the single currency. We believe that the increasing incursion of undemocratic bodies and the drive to a world market lye very significantly behind the under representation of locally elected and accountable representatives as identified by the Joseph Rowntree Trust. We note with concern also that there are 70,000 unelected quango post holders in Britain and only 23,000 elected councillors. It is therefore important that the community work field is continually seen to progress through collective, consultative action. We believe these wider political issues need consideration in the general debate about the future strategy for community development.

1.14 In the light of all of the above the CYWU warmly welcomes the general approach of the Interim paper to elicit further contributions to the debate.

The Paper.

2.1 We are not convinced that the paper is based fully on worked out principles of equity, and social justice, this is simply because once again there is a stunning avoidance of the need to value community development by valuing its work-force and ensuring that there is a national framework of collective bargaining and appropriate terms and conditions. We believe the time is long overdue to get the community work sector fully and properly integrated with the JNC Report.

2.2 Similarly, CYWU offers through this response to the consultation the resources of its government funded projects designed to provide employment practice and professional training support to voluntary sector and local authority based community work providers.

2.3 CYWU fully supports all comments made on pages 5,6,7,8 and 9. We believe they omit attention to point 2.1 raised above and therefore are incomplete.

2.4 CYWU fully supports the description of intention on pages 18-22. However, the sections omit any specific institutional, resourcing or organisational proposals. CYWU would like to see the formation of a national body which would bring the coherence required and act as an endorsement body acting under a Memorandum of Agreement with the JNC. We presume that this would be an enhanced function of the Standards Council, Forum and FCWTG or a combination of all of them in a new format. CYWU would like to lend its support to achieving substantial funding for such a development.We believe that without the organic link to terms and conditions and national employers’ recognition being made, community work will continue to lack the support and status it deserves.

2.5 It appears to us that the document avoids the question of the license to practice and level. In youth work CYWU believes that Level 3 is the minimum requirement for any part time worker and Level 4 the minimum for a full time worker.

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