Natfhe is very democratic

7th November 2003 at 00:00
Even though the figures given at the Natfhe committee meeting, (to discuss the latest pay offer) were totally meaningless, and, as such, the committee voted not to use them, they are repeated in your columns, (they also went out with the ballot papers!).

The truth is, as usual, much simpler than that described by FErret ("Hardline reps drown us out", FE Focus, October 17):

* The national negotiators were split 44, with one abstention.

* On a card vote, the recalled conference reflected that vote and themselves voted, by a 3837 vote, to recommend rejection of the pay offer.

* The members then voted overwhelmingly to accept the pay offer - that's democracy in action!

However, I do note that FErret has nothing to say about the very low turnout, (37 per cent).

Yes, as Fawzi Ibrahim (Natfhe's national treasurer) states, it's expensive to hold ballots - but what price democracy?

Perhaps the whisperers are also correct about direct representation from branches. We in the North-west region would dearly love to increase our conference delegation from seven to 40 plus. As, I'm sure, would Wales, London and YorkshireHumberside.

At the moment, delegations reflect the size of regional membership - a move to branch representation would skew this. Myerscough college, in Lanacashire, for instance, would have the same voting strength as, say, Wigan and Leigh college, which has eight or nine times as many members. And that's why there are some in Natfhe pursuing this idea.

But, not only would such a system be less democratic - it would also be much, much more expensive!

Yes, there's a debate to be had, but that debate should take place within the structures of Natfhe.

Peter Jones Regional secretary Natfhe North West 10 Holyoake Street Todmorden West Yorkshire

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