Greencore’s night shift workers build English skills with support from BFAWU

Night shift workers at Greencore have been able to improve their English skills thanks to a Project Worker from the BFAWU working with the sites ULR and the employer to set up a tester course that fitted around their working hours.

BFAWU members at Greencore

Greencore Group is a convenience food manufacturer with sites across the UK and Ireland and specialise in “food to go” producing everything from sandwiches to sushi. BAFWU Project Worker Karen Plasom was recently invited to meeting at the companies factory in Northampton.

Karen said:

I was invited to a meeting with the H/R and reps to discuss learning and the courses we have on offer. The company is working with Leicester College providing English during college hours.”

We talked about conducting open days in the canteen and the distance learning courses that are on offer. Later I had a general talk with the reps and the subject of running an English course on nights came up as there is a need for this to support night shift workers, but unfortunately the college couldn’t help.”

One of the Union Learning Reps is Viorica Secreira, or Vicky as she is known in the workplace. Vicky used to teach English in her native country of Russia, Karen and Vicky discussed the idea of setting up a ‘community’ English course.

Karen explained:  

Although this course wouldn’t be accredited we can give a BFAWU Learning Services participation certificate, and this idea seemed to be a way to start support these workers build their skills.”

It was agreed we would limit the course to one hour so people wouldn’t have to commit a big chunk of time before work.”

Once the idea of Community English taster courses were agreed the ULR’s went about setting best dates to start. Initially it will be a six-week taster course, building the learners confidence and encouraging them to attend the accredited course during the day if timings permit. 

Lead ULR, Andrew Williams, along with fellow ULR Lukasz Wilczek and Vicky, went to management and asked permission for this to go ahead. The BFAWU ULRs also negotiated to have the use of the boardroom which was really helpful as it has the whiteboards and other resources in place.

On Wednesday 7th August the first session commenced at 8.30pm with six people attending.

Karen said:

Viorica led the learning as she has the knowledge and language skills, and once her initial nerves had settled, she was in full swing explaining the English alphabet, making the sounds of the letters and really encouraging the people. Everyone looked as though they’d enjoyed it and gave positive feedback at the end.”

The first session seems to have encouraged other workers to take up the offer of English tasters, and on the way-out Karen and Vicky had another three enquiries about the lessons asking if they could join.

Karen is positive about the direction the lessons are taking and the support they have had from the employer, saying:

We hope to build the participation and eventually convince a college that night workers need their help too.”