TEFL Workers’ Union launched in London

iww.org.uk

IWW members in London are building a union for all workers in the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry. If you work in a language school anywhere in the UK and would like to get involved, please contact us at tefl@iww.org.uk or through our facebook page.

We are teachers, receptionists, admin staff and interns who are tired of bad contracts and insecure employment. We’re tired of being treated like we’re disposable.

As members of the IWW union, we’ve decided to launch a union in the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) industry. But we’re not just a union for teachers. All language school workers deserve permanent contracts, paid sick days, and paid meetings and trainings. Teachers deserve paid prep time.

Cleaners, teachers, admins staff and interns – we all deserve a wage we can live on. None us should struggle to get by month to month. We work hard, we should earn enough to pay a mortgage or start a family.

Background to the campaign

The campaign began off the back of some successful actions in a Central London school where the majority of teaching staff joined the IWW. In the following year, they won a much-improved pay offer, back pay for a number of teachers, and paid staff meetings and CPD sessions. More importantly, the workers learned how to stand up for themselves and each other and to build a sense of solidarity and confidence at work.

At schools across London, the IWW has:

  • helped a group of teachers claim holiday pay unlawfully denied to them
  • won thousands of pounds for a teacher forced to undertake bogus ‘teacher training’ classes
  • won a payout for a receptionist who was unfairly dismissed
  • won thousands of pounds in unpaid wages for a group of teachers when their school unexpectedly closed down
  • successfully challenged an unfair pay review process
  • guided a group of teachers through a collective grievance in order to challenge discrimination

We’ve launched the campaign by distributing leaflets and speaking to many workers at several schools across Central London. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, reinforcing our belief that a union has been a long time coming in this industry where exploitation and abuse is rife.

We’ve also been holding a series of events, including a Union Representative training tailored specifically to language school workers and a “Know Your Rights” training on zero-hour contracts. We also run an Organiser Training which gives language school workers the tools to tackle workplace issues.

Our plans for the future

At the moment, our focus is letting language school workers in London know there’s a union for them. In the process, we’re helping to connect workers from different schools to share stories and support each other. As a union, we’re here to offer training and support.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a ‘TEFL charter’ that outlines a minimum standard of pay and conditions. With it, we can demand that all London schools finally provide decent working conditions to all staff.

We are already in contact and sharing experiences with language school workers in a number of cities in the UK and Ireland.

Get involved

By joining the IWW, we have taken the first steps to improve our conditions on the job. Even in these early stages of the campaign, we’ve shown that by sticking together and taking action we can force language schools to begin treating us with the dignity and respect we deserve.

For too long, language schools have gotten away with lousy contracts, poor working conditions and shameful employment practices. The industry needs to change – and that won’t happen unless we make our voices heard. We have to stand up and stand together. We need solidarity and organisation. We need a union.

If you feel the same way, get in touch.

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Bakkavor Factory Newsletter no.5

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Angry Workers of the World


Pay negotiations have started, the union asks for £1 more for all, Bakkavor offered 5p!

We distribute an independent newsletter, calling for independent workers’ action, inside or outside the union, by all means necessary…

Bakkavor Bulletin 5 EnglishGujarati

Bakkavor Bulletin 5 EnglishTamil

IWW statement on Home Office courier raids

It has been reported in the press that the Home Office have been coordinating police raids on gig economy couriers suspected of working with false documentation.

In some cases, under the ‘substitution’ clause in the courier contract, account holders will rent out their accounts to other workers. Deliveroo claim that this puts the onus on the account holder to perform background checks.

It is clear that these companies wish to benefit from access to a highly vulnerable workforce by using the ‘substitution’ system to shirk liability for illegally employing people.

We don’t condone or support any form of rent-seeking – the lowest form of capitalist profit making – and particularly condemn those who rent out their ‘right-to-work’ and make a profit at the expense of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

We stand in solidarity of all those making deliveries for Uber Eats and Deliveroo, regardless of immigration status or “right-to-work”, and condemn the police and Home Office victimisation of workers.

As Brexit looms on the horizon, it seems likely that the ‘hostile environment ‘ is going to intensify and expand to more of our fellow workers. In recent months, we have already seen police raids against other groups of workers in precarious jobs, notably sex workers.

If you witness, or hear of, police gathering to conduct raids, we encourage you to let your fellow couriers know so they can avoid the area.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Further information and advice the Anti Raids Network is a loose network of groups and individuals working to build the resistance to immigration raids by producing and sharing information and materials. 

F.W. Peter Ridpath, 1948 – 2018.

Peter Ridpath (centre) at home on the picket line.

When I heard last week that London Wobbly Peter Ridpath had passed away I wanted to write something for the blog but didn’t have enough biographical info to do him justice.

Here’s a proper obituary from his London Branch

and one from the Anarchist Communist Group

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of Peter’s company on numerous actions, demo’s, union events and bookfairs, and I liked him a lot.

I found him to be jolly, kind-hearted, interesting to talk to and militant as fuck. A dyed-in-the-wool revolutionary syndicalist and anarchist, he was a familiar face on picket lines across the capital, and argued quietly but persuasively against bureaucratic and centralising tendencies.

So long Peter, we’re going to miss you.

– Felix Sabot, Dorset IWW.