IWW (WISE-RA) joins ICL-CIT

IWW WISE-RA 11th September 2021 Fellow Workers,

It gives me great delight to inform you that we are now members of the ICL-CIT, thus strengthening our ties with Fellow Workers and, importantly, other anarcho-syndicalist and revolutionary unions, internationally. For those of you less familiar with this organisation, their project is exactly the same as ours, namely:

Its main goal is to contribute to deep social and economic transformation worldwide.

Our membership to the ICL-CIT will ensure that we remain focused on our project of empowering workers at a grassroots level, while also enabling us to co-ordinate the use of the weapons we have at our disposal in our fight against the forces of capitalism.

If you would like to get involved, please get in touch.

In solidarity, William Sharkey Secretary for the IWW (WISE-RA)

Kill the Bill, deportations, arms fairs and more: mid-August class struggle round-up

Cautiously pessimistic

The joint PCS/UVW strike action by outsourced workers demanding equal treatment at Royal Parks started on Monday the 16th and is set to run till the 30th August. You can donate to their strike fund here, and email their bosses in support of the strike using a tool here. In other PCS news, DVLA workers are striking over Covid safety through the whole of August. Another long-running strike continues in Bexley, where bin workers are still on strike over pay and victimisation issues, and have previously warned that the dispute could stretch out into October.

Also, pretty much all the health unions are running pay ballots of some kind at the moment, so those are important to vote in for anyone who works in that sector. See Health Workers United for more on that.

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We are proud of those who fought back against the police

Bristol Anarchist Black Cross - Prisoner Support

A statement by Bristol Anarchist Black Cross and Bristol Defendant Solidarity

On Friday 30th July, five people were sentenced to over 14 years between them. Four people were given sentences of over three years for riot.

These five people are the first to receive custodial sentences for the confrontation with the police outside Bridewell Police Station at the Kill the Bill demonstration on 21st March. However, over 75 people have been arrested, 28 of them have now been charged. Two people are currently on remand in Horfield prison.

The sentences are:

  • BL 3 years 11 months
  • KA 3 years 6 months
  • SQ 3 years 3 months
  • KS 3 years 6 months
  • YS 5 months

Click here to donate to our crowdfunder to support those who are in prison

What happened on 21st March was an outpouring of rage against the violence of the police. The crowd fought back after police…

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Discrimination at Whales English: Not on our watch

IWW WISE-RA

What would you call it if a language school refused to employ someone on the grounds that they spoke another language fluently, other than English? Discrimination? Racism? Native-speakerism? All of the above?

A teacher applied to Whales English, based in Beijing, for an online position teaching children, having more than the required experience and qualifications. She was unsuccessful. But one of the grounds of her refusal was because of a system of “keywords” used to automatically screen out applicants. The company admitted in writing that one of these is saying you are fluent in other languages as it “could fool the system/recruiters into thinking you are not a native speaker.”

Of course, the TEFL Workers’ Union simply does not accept that non-native speakers can be assumed to be poorer teachers. However, regardless of that, it is absurd to suggest that bilingual people cannot be native speakers. That an English language school fails to understand that is astonishing

Moreover, in the context of the English language in particular, large numbers of native English speakers are either born in countries such as India, Pakistan, Malaysia etc, where English is the first language of a very large number of citizens, or, as in this teacher’s case, are born, raised and educated in the UK, but learn other languages from their particular ethnic community. Discriminating against job applicants on that basis runs the risk of being guilty of race-based discrimination. To come up against such attitudes in 2021 is shocking and appalling.

The TEFL Workers’ Union demands that this practice is ended and that the worker concerned is compensated for the distress suffered! We will not tolerate discrimination in the ELT industry and we certainly won’t tolerate our members being denied jobs because of the bigotry and prejudice of dodgy language schools.

We’ve already raised the issue directly with Whales English who’ve neglected to respond.  Perhaps they think that will be the end of the matter.  They’re wrong. Watch this space to see how you can help put an end to discrimination at Whales English – and across English language teaching.

NHS pay dispute from below – Online newsletter no.2

Health Workers United

3% pay insult?! Time to fuck shit up!

Welcome to the second newsletter for a workers-led NHS pay dispute! The various trade unions are slowly starting to inform their members about the consultation – if you are a member, please vote to reject the 3% government pay ‘increase’ decision. Inflation is expected to rise to up to 4% – we might be in for another real wage cut. Here are a few things that we should bear in mind over the coming weeks – until the union consultation closes.

* As health workers we are between a rock and a hard place. The government won’t budge and improve the 3% pay ‘increase’. It will need a lot of pressure to get a better wage. The unions will have to do something to build this pressure, but they are not used to it. They are used to petitioning, symbolic protests, perhaps…

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Discrimination in Bournemouth update: ELT institutions shirk their responsibility

Watch this space for another TEFL dispute in Bournemouth, they don’t like it up ’em!

IWW WISE-RA

The TEFL Workers’ Union’s dispute with United World School of English in Bournemouth continues. If you don’t know about the case, it revolves around allegations that United World mistreated and discriminated against one of our members there as a result of his being disabled. The background for the dispute can be found here.

So far, the local IWW branch has held two successful pickets alongside a “Twitterstorm” targeting United World on social media. We’ve since had enquiries from local media, the TEFL press, and other Bournemouth ELT workers.

Mike, the worker at the centre of the dispute, can pick up the story from there:

The IWW has organised two pickets and they’ve been very effective. The first really struck home and brought the school back to the negotiating table. However, the owner simply repeated one of her earlier offers (offering to re-instate me), plus she added a condition. Since we’d already turned down this offer, we have no choice but to take her to tribunal.

Normally, this would probably be too difficult for me to do on my own,  but with the support of the IWW, I know we can see this through. I hope this all brings about more recognition that mental health issues need to be recognised by everyone in the workplace.

We’ve filed the paperwork for an employment tribunal and we fully intend to go all the way to a hearing if United World isn’t willing to make this right. But the IWW is a fighting union and employment tribunals are always accompanied by ongoing campaigning. Part of that campaign has been to reach out to the institutions that we’re told are there to oversee the industry and ensure language schools comply with the law.

Locally, we emailed Simon Freeman. Mr Freeman is the executive officer of RALSA, which appears to operate as the local British Council affiliate in Bournemouth. Despite the fact United World is a member of RALSA, the organisation declined to investigate the matter despite our offer of corroborating documentation. More than that, RALSA refused to put out a statement condemning discrimination in even the broadest terms. Mr Freeman only offered the following response:

While I am sorry to read about this situation, it is a legal matter that RALSA is not in a position to get involved in as the courts will decide on what is / was fair and any sanctions would follow from that decision.  I have checked the RALSA Constitution and any involvement in such matters is clearly not within RALSA’s remit.

From there, we contacted the national office of English UK, an organisation which makes a great public show of their commitment to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. While English UK at least had the decently to claim they stood against discrimination, they too failed to take any steps to hold one of the their affiliate schools to account:

We cannot comment on individual cases where there is a legal process ongoing.

At English UK, we take equality legislation seriously. All English UK members must adhere to a code of practice (English UK Rules, Section S2, p. 4ff) which includes the following clause:

1.3 The Member will comply with all applicable laws and regulations of the UK and European Union governments. You can find a copy of the full English UK Member Rules here:

https://www.englishuk.com/uploads/assets/members/rules/English_UK_Rules.pdf

In line with their duty to comply with all applicable UK laws, English UK members must not discriminate against anyone at work because of a protected characteristic and must make reasonable adjustments for disabled workers.

This establishes, yet again, that ELT institutions will refuse to investigate their member schools regardless of the seriousness of the allegation. For English UK, it appears opposition to discrimination is merely something for lofty proclamation, not something which is to be enforced (or even investigated!) internally within the organisation.

Should Mike’s case proceed to a judgement at tribunal, we will again raise the matter with English UK to determine if, at that point, they’ll take steps to hold their members to account. We are also pursuing the matter with the British Council directly. However, given disabled workers at British Council have made allegations of discrimination while working there, it will be a welcome surprise if the British Council lives up to its responsibility as the supposed regulator of the UK ELT industry.

But this is why the TEFL Workers’ Union exists.  We’re not in the least bit surprised that bosses’ organisations like English UK or the British Council fail to hold our bosses to account. And because they won’t, we will. If you’ve been mistreated at work, the union has got your back. Whether it’s legal advice, representation in a disciplinary or grievance, or a public campaign, we’re here to hold your boss to account.

The Great Pause – Seven interviews on Covid with workers in India.

Angry Workers

“We were always told one must work to survive, but for the first time we witnessed a situation where to stay alive, one must stop working.”— A factory worker in Delhi (Our friend and comrade Anumeha Yadav interviewed male and female workers in different industries about their experiences during and after Covid.

We document these interviews here. We engaged in similar interviews here in the UK, if you haven’t read them yet, check out the summary) When the central government announced a lockdown with four hours-notice on March 24th, workers responded in multiple ways. Some queued up for hours to get food rations as relief, others walked or cycled over hundreds of kilometers, leaving slums and the work-sites they reside in, to return to villages for wheat harvest or paddy planting, or to be with their families during a health emergency. Most of these workers lacked any formal contracts and association. But they organised at work-sites to demand being allowed to return to their homes in villages. At many sites, the agitations even turned violent. The government was pressured to run special trains to labour-surplus regions in north and east India.

After June 2020, work steadily resumed at construction sites, commercial establishments including shops, malls, factories, workshops, offices, though with changes. The coronavirus pandemic strained international links in production, and the movement of people across the globe for daily business. The State as well as corporations recalibrated production. Firms cut back operations in some areas, but also expanded into new markets and opportunities, such as in bio-tech, or home deliveries.

Organizations used the flux created by Covid-19 to

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Fellow health workers – We have to take this struggle into our own hands – Leaflet

Health Workers United

(Picture: Recent rebellion of hospital workers in Argentina)

This is a longer version of a leaflet that we wrote for the current pay campaign in general and the day of action on the 3rd of July in concrete. If you want us to send you copies for your local protests, please contact us at: healthworkersunited@protonmail.com

——–

We don’t have to tell you anything new about the situation. We all lost 10% pay in real terms since 2010, the 1% or even 4% pay offer is a disgrace, inflation is rising. There is enough money floating about, but it ends up in the wrong pockets, of this or that CEO or investor or friend of No.10. Where the money ends up, whether in our or their pocket, is a question of power. How can we develop our power?

Power is different from appealing or lobbying. They won’t give us more money…

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Electricians win de-skilling dispute, and a few upcoming events for mid-June

Surprise picket at United World language school in support of disabled worker.

Mike is a language teacher with 20 years service at United World school of English in Bournemouth. Language schools are notorious for exploitation and poor employment practices, hence the need for a TEFL union within the IWW. Mike is now suing them for constructive dismissal on grounds of disability discrimination under the equalities act 2010.

Thanks to those Fellow Workers who turned out at short notice to support him, it was great fun. Arriving at 9:30 we made a placard on the spot and gave out many leaflets. Reception from the public was entirely positive and it’s good to chat with people about their own work problems.

The bosses’ pathetic blithering fell on deaf ears, had we heard their side? Save it for the tribunal, mush, it’s an adversarial process. You can complain to these types till you’re blue in the face but when you take action they act all hurt. One told us our picket was illegal, which it isn’t. It never ceases to amaze us how ignorant some managers are concerning the laws made on their behalf.


If you treat your workers with disrespect we will shut you down! Have a read of our leaflet and tell ’em what you think:

United World School of English, Brandon & Clifton House, 44 – 46 St Peter’s Rd. Bournemouth, BH1 2LT
Tel: +44 (0) 1202 315166
What’s App: +44(0) 7825
https://www.unitedworldschool.co.uk/contact-us