Bright Blue Foods Ltd is a cake factory in Blackburn, and workers there have been benefiting from the support of BFAWU Learning Project Worker John Fox. John has encouraged the company to sign up to a joint Skills pledge with the union as well as organising learning assessments for staff with a view to building maths and English skills.
John was asked to attend an open day with the unions Full Time Official Roy Streeter and promote the BFAWU’s learning offer.
Whilst I was there I spoke about my job role within the union to the HR of the factory who introduced me to the Learning and Development Manager Adrian Foster.”
Following this a meeting was made to see both the HR and Adrian on site. This must have gone well as they asked me to come in and promote learning on site. Although the BFAWU have a lot of members on the sites we don’t, at present, have a Branch Secretary, or representatives – so I was happy to come in and highlight the benefits of union learning to the staff.”
Colleges have tried themselves to recruit learners on site in the past, but this has fallen through. So John asked the Training and Development Manager at BBF if had he anyone who could help with the task of recruiting learners.
He let me use Paulina Szot who works in his department, this was fantastic news for me as a lot of Eastern European workers work here.”
I briefed Paulina on what I wanted and the paperwork that I required for the initial interest in English and Maths and she went about this task. The learners were apprehensive at first as they had signed up with another college who had been in but nothing had materialized for the learning that they wanted.”
John and Paulina collected 54 names from the interest sheets - which is 20% of the workforce. John then contacted Blackpool and Flyde College who he has a good working relationship with at Fox’s Biscuits, another company where the BFAWU is supporting learning.
John asked them to do the English and Maths Assessments, and on Tuesday 2nd October they held an Assessment Day where 29 learners started their learning journey.
This will now last for approximately 20 weeks to reach their first goal and they will be able to carry on their learning until they reach a learning goal of level 2.”
The staff and employer are very pleased that they invited the union in to support them kick start learning at the workplace – just showing that when it comes to union learning you can have your cake and eat it.