Another Bournemouth TEFL case: bogus contracts at Anglo-Continental School of English.

In June 2021 a language teacher who we shall call ‘Jo’ asked us to help prepare a case against Anglo-Continental School of English regarding the fraudulent use of “fixed term contracts” after reading about the successful outcome for staff at Kaplan School.

Jo started work at Anglo-Continental on a fixed term contract in 2010. This ended when the school closed for its December break. Jo returned to the school in January and the contract was extended for one year.

This pattern was repeated over the next eight years. They worked in the same job at the same site for at least 11 months each year with 4 weeks paid holiday, being upgraded to Co-ordinator in the summer months. The HR manager even admitted they had to break the contract annually to deny them full employment rights; often when they requested a holiday they were given a P45.

After four years, according to UK employment law, Jo became a permanent employee by default, however they were never informed of this fact by management (a breach of its contractual duty of “trust and confidence”).

In March 2020 the school shut and Jo was put on ‘furlough’ until 31st July. Their contract was then terminated on the grounds there was no work; in law this is simply ‘dismissal by reason of redundancy’. They were not consulted over redundancy selection nor told of their entitlement to compensation (another contractual breach).

Had Jo contacted the union at the time we would of course have taken it to tribunal. Unfortunately these cases are time limited but we believe if a sum is owed to a Fellow Worker, it remains owed until it is paid.

In March 2021 Jo returned to the school with a new contract which ran until they took a week off on 4th June after which it was again renewed.

In July the TEFL union wrote claiming compensation and passed the casework to Dorset branch. Within days Jo was fired. Dismissals for Trade Union activity and ‘whistle-blowing’ are automatically unfair so no need to quibble over length of service. We’ve now exhausted the grievance procedure and ACAS Conciliation so we are, at last, taking it to the Employment Tribunal.

Sinister: Guido Shillig

We have sight of internal e-mails that show Anglo-continental as a dysfunctional organisation with no clear demarcation of responsibility (and a limited grasp of the English language). Five members of staff, including senior managers were overruled on a whim of their sinister boss Guido Shillig, who we’re told “doesn’t like unionists”.

The IWW will not rest until we obtain for our members the full fruits of their labour. If you teach English as a foreign language join the TEFL union and help put this villain in his place.

Tell ’em what you think:
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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.

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

Delfin English teachers win contract improvements after joining IWW

We would like to start a TEFL group in Dorset, there are many language schools especially in the BH postcode area. If you are employed by one of these firms in any capacity and would like to participate in this new initiative, please get in touch.

If you are a student, we would like to hear from you also. Remember you can carry your IWW membership in and out of work, and across national borders.


After joining the TEFL Workers Union, teachers at Delfin Language School in London have won paid meetings, paid CPDs, paid sick days, a pay policy, and an end to zero-hours contracts.

Teachers at Delfin Language School in London have joined the TEFL Workers Union, part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). As a result, they have won major improvements to their working conditions.

Prior to unionisation, Delfin contracts were copied-and-pasted templates off the internet that, in many instances, didn’t meet basic legal minimums. After a year-long campaign, the teachers now have paid meetings and CPD training sessions, five paid sick days, a pay structure and contracts that guarantee a minimum of 15 hours a week. With union support, the teachers also won back pay and a pay increase for three teachers who’d been unfairly denied a rise.

Throughout the campaign, workers have stuck together and stood up for themselves and each other. This has meant many things: taking out individual and collective grievances, setting up a shared email account to communicate collectively with management, demanding group meetings with senior managers, and organising a boycott of yearly appraisals.

On one occasion, an IWW representative in Ireland had to pay a visit to the main Delfin campus in Dublin in order to get a response from the school. Similarly, the London teachers’ negotiating hand was strengthened when their fellow Delfin teachers in Dublin joined the UNITE ELT union. Teacher-to-teacher and union-to-union communication increased the teachers’ power and made management aware that national boundaries would not prove a barrier to solidarity.

Throughout all of this, the IWW TEFL Workers Union has been instrumental in offering legal guidance, a meeting space, representation, training, and strategic advice.

One of the Delfin teachers had this to say about the value in joining the union and getting organised:

“I’m not exactly coming up for retirement, but I wish I’d done this ten years ago. All aspects of my working life until this last year have been in the hands of my employers and this has not worked out well for me. I’ll never let that happen again and neither should any other teacher.”

The struggle is not over. Delfin has agreed to meet their staff for formal negotiations and the teachers still want to secure paid prep time, better pay, and greater accountability and transparency from management. The IWW TEFL Workers Union will be there to help them achieve that.

If you work in a language school, the IWW is happy to sit down with you to discuss your contract and answer any questions you may have. We also offer training, advice, and representation in disciplinaries and grievances.

The TEFL Workers Union is open to all workers in language schools, including receptionists, admin staff, interns, cleaners, and sales staff. If you work at a language school and you have a problem at work, the IWW has got your back.

tefl@iww.org.uk
https://iww.org.uk/tefl-workers-union
https://facebook.com/teflworkers

Dopey deliveroo!

Ahead of the valentine’s day strike we sent our demands by e-mail and registered post to deliveroo, who were kind enough to copy us into the e-mail instructing their staff not to respond. Believe it or not, we’ve just had the follow-up:

It’s always good to know what calibre of adversary you’re up against in the Class War.

Skipton’s Bournemouth picket 16th February 2019.

This afternoon five of us picketed Skipton Building society Bournemouth branch in solidarity with Brighton Solidarity Federation’s Housing Union, as part of the continuing  campaign to obtain compensation for tenants rendered homeless by Fox & Sons in Brighton Kemptown.

Dorset IWW supports Brighton tenants against Fox & Sons

Fox & Sons is part of the Connell’s group which owns dozens of similar companies and reported pre-tax profits of £28.9 million in the first six months of 2018. It’s ultimately owned by the Skipton Building society so the campaign is being escalated to their branches and subsidiaries.

Landlord drops Fox & Sons after single picket, whilst our campaign escalates to Jade Software in Australia

As usual we received support from passers-by, the workers at Skipton’s didn’t actually know the company owned  Fox & Sons, they were friendly and even brought us some coffee!

– An injury to one is an injury to all!

Report from the front line: Bournemouth couriers shut down deliveroo on Valentine’s day!

L Bournemouth town centre, R banner drop on A338

Twenty-seven riders struck in Bournemouth. Nineteen picketed the largest and busiest KFC in Bournemouth, others went sick, or celebrated valentines with a loved one. Four scabs crossed the picket line, looking “furtive and guilty” – you know who you are! However four new riders were recruited to the strike group.

One striker assessed the viability of ordering food on the customer app:

“The only places I can order from are ones that provide their own delivery … It worked. I can’t get any (deliveroo rider) delivered food at the moment. … all the town centre and landsdowne restaurants show up … From 9:15 I couldn’t order food if I wanted to.”

Future actions will enforce deliveroo rates equivalent to the new minimum wage of £8.21 per hour. Another striker commented:

The overall feelings of anger, aggression and disgust towards Deliveroo, rose again last night, to a new level. We refuse to let Deliveroo reduce us to poverty stricken workers, who are grateful for crumbs that fall from the company’s table.

The support from other striking riders in the UK was uplifting, and show us that the battles being fought by individual towns and cities are now combining, to becoming a united and coordinated War.”

Don’t cross picket lines!

St Valentine’s day massacre! Bournemouth IWW couriers join national Deliveroo strike.

You can support the riders by not ordering food on Valentine’s day!

Couriers affiliated to Dorset IWW are taking industrial action this thursday 14th February 2019. We are demanding:

• Return to July 2018 fee level.
• Increase distance fees for journeys over 2.5 miles (amount to be negotiated).
• Reduce the delivery zone (size to be negotiated).
• Stop on-boarding* new riders and drivers immediately.
• Remove double orders that show only one address.
• Give reasons and supporting evidence when terminating contracts.

* This is deliveroo’s euphemism for recruiting scabs to break a strike. It is to be hoped prospective riders will have nothing to do with this despicable tactic.

Please don’t order a takeaway on Valentine’s day. Why not join your partner in the kitchen and cook something together? It’s a lot of fun, and no-one wants to f*** a scab.

https://iww.org.uk/iww-couriers-network/

https://www.facebook.com/IWWCouriersNetwork/

Tweets by IWW_Couriers

Dorset IWW supports Brighton tenants against Fox & Sons

Thanks to Grace for the picture.

On Saturday Dorset IWW picketed Fox & Sons Bournemouth branch in support of Brighton Solidarity Federation’s Housing Union, to obtain compensation for tenants the company left out of pocket through their negligence. The support we received from passers-by was heartening, and many interesting conversations were had. Despite the weather, it was a rewarding afternoon.

Last September, six students were kept waiting five days after their agreed moving date, at which point their tenancy was abruptly cancelled, rendering them homeless. The agency offered no help, and they were compelled to take overpriced accommodation they could ill afford.

Fox & Sons must accept responsibility and shoulder some of the burden – our comrades are each demanding £380 to cover the extra rent on the property they had to take at the last minute.

Fox & Sons then took another nine days to refund £1650 of the tenants’ money. Fox & Sons Is part of the Connell’s group which owns dozens of similar companies and reported pre-tax profits of £28.9 million in the first six months of 2018. It’s ultimately owned by the Skipton Building society so the campaign is being escalated to take in their branches also.

Fox & Sons received £720 compensation from the landlords, Jears Properties Limited, another multi-million-pound company, and instead of passing it on, simply pocketed the money.

Landlords and agents exploit the shortage of accommodation to make vast profits from those who can least afford it.

Bosses and landlords, agencies and the DWP are all on the same side and it isn’t ours. We don’t need to put up with their shady practices if we stick together.

– An injury to one is an injury to all!

Trans/intersex Solidarity Gathering in Bournemouth.

On Sunday 28th October four Dorset branch members attended a rally in Bournemouth square to show solidarity with trans/intersex comrades in the USA, who are now threatened with highly repressive legislation, that if passed would set them back half a century at least. The category of gender would be replaced by a legal definition of ‘sex’ to be determined by a physical examination of external genitalia at the moment of birth, disputes to be settled by ‘genetic testing’.

This is not only bad politics it’s crank science, promoted by ignorant fundamentalists who don’t even believe in evolution or climate change. Nevertheless it’s already drawn approval from the far-right and TERFs on this side of the Atlantic. It’s got to be worth a fight, hasn’t it?

The event was hastily arranged on face book. We were glad to be part of a good-natured gathering of Working Class trans-,cis-, non-binary and gender-nonconforming individuals. We recognised none of the stereotypes being pushed by the reactionary journalists and pundits, nor did we see any evidence of suspicious funding sources or middle-class entitlement. The only aggression displayed was a heckle from a self-parodying religious fanatic. We are content to let them pursue their mediaeval dogma unmolested; some of the demonstrators expressed religious beliefs and affiliations of their own.

The IWW is One Big Union for All Workers – join us!