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Wrong to compare lecturing with slavery

Fawzi Ibrahim does his colleagues in further education no favours by referring to slave contracts and slave owning employers (Letters, TES, March 10). He insults the suffering of thousands, possibly millions of people worldwide who do live in conditions of slavery, indentured to their employers, bound by life-long debts or the knowledge that they and their children would starve without the meagre rewards of their labours. To compare even the worst conditions of FE lecturers in England and Wales to this is untrue and offensive.

Of course lecturers have the right to defend their conditions of work. And also the duty to do so, for exhausted teachers cannot provide high quality education. Lively, interested, supportive teachers produce best results. Worn-out, alienated, stressed teachers do not.

With the planned expansion in FE, access for large number of students who previously would not have had opportunities is now possible - but these are not the most learning-wise students. They need to be inducted into what being a student means, and encouraged to stick at it while they find their feet. No easy task when you yourself are demoralised!

It is ironic that Mr Ibrahim should be standing for election as president of the lecturers' union NATFHE:the very same Mr Ibrahim who was part of the group on the NATFHE executive who stalled negotiations early in the dispute, who insists on an inflexible approach to negotiations that no professional trade unionist would adopt, who refuses to seek the assistance of the conciliation service. No doubt he intends to lead us over the barricades to victory!

VICKY SEDDON

National executive

NATFHE

222 Psalter Lane, Sheffield

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