Solidarity in the face of redundancy: a message from EF staff to St. Giles staff

IWW (Wales, Ireland, Scotland & England Regional Administration)

To the teachers at St. Giles Language School,

Covid-19 has negatively impacted the global economy significantly. The TEFL profession is no exception. In this challenging situation teachers and TEFL workers are supporting each other to make sure that the financial losses caused by the pandemic don’t fall solely on our shoulders.

As language school staff, we’re all in this together and we need to stick together. Let’s be resolute and determined and use all of our collective skills to get through this difficult period.

It is important to remember that, although you face redundancy, none of you are redundant because the talent of teaching in a style unique to each of you is enshrined in you that cannot be taken away.

All of us at EF and St. Giles shall stand together in solidarity with each other to get through these difficult times keeping in mind the maxim “united we stand – divided we fall”.

Workplace Notes

The Anarchist Communist Group (ACG)

London Bus Drivers Act to Protect Themselves (and Get Free Transport for All!)

After the death of at least 26 London bus drivers from coronavirus, their colleagues had had enough. They forced Transport for London (TfL) and the London bus companies to ensure that front doors on buses stayed shut, so that passengers could enter by middle and back doors and avoid contact with drivers. For this to happen, it was necessary to stop paying fares. TfL was reluctant to do this, because of loss of revenue, but they had to back down under pressure.

However, some 2,000 buses in London have entry by front door only and bus workers want these routes to be suspended unless multiple door buses can replace them.

Read More

TEFL Workers’ Union Declares Victory in Delfin Redundancy Dispute

iww.org.uk

The entire teaching staff at Delfin was made redundant last year just five days before Christmas. The TEFL Workers’ Union, which represents staff at the school, maintains the redundancy process failed to meet the required legal standard.  In response, the union undertook a series of pickets alongside a social media campaign.

Choosing to focus largely on Delfin’s business partners, there was a national day of protest targeting a language school chain from whom Delfin is renting teaching space. Protests were also directed towards a staffing agency which began providing teachers to Delfin immediately after the redundancies.

Delfin, which declared insolvency during the subsequent negotiations, failed to send someone from the Dublin head office to London to discuss the matter.

According TEFL Workers’ Union representative Anna Clark:

“The Delfin teachers fought a hard campaign and were lucky to be able to count on the support of the London EFL community and IWW branches around the UK. As a result, they secured an enhanced redundancy package – something that’s virtually unheard of in the language teaching industry.”

In a further act of solidarity – and one which stands in stark contrast to that of their employer – Delfin teachers secured the additional payment for a further two teachers who had left the school before formal redundancies were announced.

Teachers at Delfin joined the TEFL Workers’ Union in 2018 making it one of the few unionised language schools in London.  Over the course of the following year and half, teachers won significant contract improvements including paid sick days, paid meetings and trainings, and the removal of unlawful clauses in their contracts.

A statement put out by the union had this to say,

“This victory shows how badly the language teaching industry needs a union. For too long, workers in language schools have had to deal with employers that pay little heed to law and have even less concern for the welfare of their staff. But when we stand together, real gains can be made.”

Delfin Cancels Christmas: A Personal Account

iww.org.uk

The Saturday before the last working week of the year, the teachers at Delfin School were emailed by the director and asked to confirm our attendance at a meeting the following Monday. Alarm bells were ringing that weekend as everybody feared the worst. We had been looking forward to the two- week Christmas/New Year break.

At the meeting on the Monday, we were advised that the school was downsizing and moving premises and that there would be redundancies. The policy was to be ‘last in, first out’, but we would have the opportunity to put forward, and discuss ideas to avoid being made redundant at a follow up meeting that Thursday. It was difficult to know what we were going to suggest on the Thursday, because the school had been far from honest in the information they’d given us, eg, how many redundancies there’d be, where the school was moving to ( they said they didn’t know ) and projected student numbers in 2020.

Thursday came, and we weren’t given much more info in that meeting. Just that we’d know around lunch time on Friday who was going to become out of work. All of this was causing a great deal of stress, and we were still teaching, trying to keep the forthcoming dismay in the background. On the Friday we learnt that the criteria for redundancies had changed from last in, first out to ‘skills’. This being unclear as each member of the teaching team was a skilled individual who had given their all to supplying engaging lessons at the school. We waited all day for news that Friday. The school was busy packing up its materials, clearly with a destination in mind. In fact, management came into classes to announce the new location they were moving to, but still no news for the teachers.

It was around half past six that Friday evening, that one by one, the school systematically gave redundancy notice to each of the teachers. That evening would have been the beginning of a much earned and needed break for the teachers. Instead we found through social media contact that they’d got rid of us all.

When the school opened its doors again in the new year, we discovered that classes were running with teachers from an agency.

Christmas 2019 was cancelled for a dedicated team of teachers at Delfin School.

5 days before Christmas Delfin English unlawfully sacked their entire teacher staff, the majority of whom were members of the IWW TEFL Workers Union.

Help us send a message to Delfin and any company that does business with Delfin: The IWW will not stand for attacks on our members!

Monday 2Oth January: 24 hour email zap of Evocation EFL Agency

Why: Because Evocation is supplying agency teachers to do the work of the sacked Delfin teachers

Please send the following email to

martin@evocationefl.net

efl@evocationefl.net

dperlin@delfin.ie

DropDelfin

Dear Martin,

I’m writing in support of the unlawfully dismissed Delfin teachers.

Five days before Christmas Delfin made their entire teaching staff redundant.

Redundancies are made on the premise that a job role is redundant. By employing agency workers to do the work of the redundant staff, Delfin has shown that the redundancies were not genuine and, therefore, unlawful.

By supplying cover teachers to Delfin, Evocation is complicit in Delfin’s unlawful behaviour.

There is a week of action planned to target Evocation for its continued relationship with Delfin. This will include physical protests as well numerous actions that will have a significant impact on Evocation’s digital reputation.

Evocation has the option to do the right things and DROP DELFIN NOW!!!

This week of action will be cancelled when:

a) Evocation severs its business relationship with Delfin and no longer provides cover teachers

or

b) Delfin negotiates an enhanced redundancy package and re-instatement options with its staff through their trade union representatives.

IWW members and language teachers across the UK and Ireland stand behind the Delfin teachers.

Evocation: #DropDelfin

‘Mickey Mouse’ scabs endanger safety at Heathrow.

Union News

Striking Heathrow firefighters are being undercut by a privatised strike-breaking outfit from Surrey County Council, the FBU has learned.

The union has slammed the “backhanded” method of strike-breaking, warning that replacement crews will not be sufficiently trained for airport or airplane fires. Unite members have currently suspended strike action after bosses made an improved pay offer.

The strike-breaking unit, South East Business Services, was set up by Surrey County Council over four years ago as a separate local authority trading company. Some firefighters initially signed up to the unit, which came with a £3,000 pay package, but pulled out upon learning that the unit was set up to provide strike cover.

Firefighters in Surrey are not generally trained to provide airport or airplane fire cover, which requires specialist skills. The FBU believes the strike breaking plan is badly thought out and could risk public safety at Heathrow Airport.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is a backhanded act of strike-breaking from Surrey County Council. Airport fire crews are specialists and, quite frankly, this Micky Mouse outfit will not be trained to deal with airplane fires to anywhere near the standard of airport firefighters. They’re playing fast and loose with public safety at an airport, one of the most high-risk locations imaginable.

“Striking Heathrow workers have the full support of the FBU. It is grossly unfair that they be treated so poorly, while executives and shareholders line their own pockets. No one, and certainly no firefighters, should be helping bosses undermine this strike under any circumstance.”

Unite suspended the strikes planned for earlier this week to allow members to vote on a new pay offer, but strike dates are still on the table for later this month.

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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.

Bakkavor Factory Newsletter no.5

Quote

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.