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Majority voted not to refer FE dispute to ACAS

As a National Association for Teachers in Further and Higher Education activist who has had more than a few political differences with Fawzi Ibrahim, I must write in his defence following the behaviour of Vicky Seddon and Tom Jolliffe (TES, March 24) in publicising their differences with union policy.

Jolliffe and Seddon infer that opposition to referring the contracts dispute to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service is unique to Fawzi Ibrahim. Both avoid stating that the national executive council of NATFHE. voted by a clear majority against referring the dispute to ACAS. More importantly, by a three-to-one majority our union's further education sector conference voted against referring the dispute to ACAS. Tom Jolliffe was there and spoke in the debate in favour of referral.

Shortly afterwards this representative gathering of serving FE lecturers showed exactly what they thought of Tom Jolliffe by voting him off the union's negotiation team. Vicky Seddon may not know of the conference decision. She is not employed in FE and by the contents of her letter knows little of the problems we all face in the sector.

The most disgraceful aspect of Tom Jolliffe's letter was his description of official union policy of seeking a settlement within the parameters laid down by the union in December 1993 as "bullish". Many members will want to know exactly how much of the Silver Book this national executive member is prepared to give up to achieve a settlement. No wonder that Seddon and Jolliffe's letters have been circulated to staff by Colleges' Employers' Forum principals. If they did not exist, Roger Ward would have to invent them.

ANDREW PRICE

Chair

Wales Region NATFHE further education committee

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