On strike in Sheffield!

LabourStart UK

Food couriers employed by gig-economy firm Stuart will be striking in Sheffield, UK, from 6 December. These couriers, who are spuriously “self-employed” and serve takeaway giant JustEat, are being slapped with a 24% cut in their per-delivery base rate.

Stuart claims that the base-rate cut is made up for by a new distance-based bonus. But in fact the changes simply mean that drivers will have to go further and faster to earn the same money. It’s a pay cut and a recipe for risk on the roads.

Food couriers will demonstrate at Sheffield Town Hall at 12 noon on Sunday 28 November and then move to indefinite strike action from 6 December, shutting down deliveries from McDonald’s and expanding to take on other chains.

The couriers’ union, the IWGB, is a small, young union, and it needs help to build up its strike fund!

Please donate here.

Demonstration on 28 November (facebook event)

Bristol CEX solidarity pickets.

Bristol Solidarity Federation have picketed electrical goods retailer CEX in solidarity with their workers in Barcelona who have suffered bullying, dismissal and unfair disciplinary measures.

Multinational CEX may be known to you a seller of video games but it also becoming known as terrible exploiter of worker’s rights. One serious concern is how a CNT-AIT member has been not allowed a reduction of hours even the care for a child, actions will continue until their demands are met.

Solidarity Federation is the British section of the International Workers’ Association (IWA-AIT)

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Help support IWW vs Golders Green College!

gofundme

V has worked at Oxford Colleges International for over 17 years. She has trained most of her colleagues in teaching english as a second languge, and has written a number of revision resources and workbooks for students.

At the end of September, she was informed that at the beginning of next month she would be transferred to a new contract with reduced hours and pay. Her employer has repeatedly refused a consultation meeting with union representation present, and she has been forced to work under protest, on a contract she cannot afford to live on, being denied redundancy pay or proper payment for the 16 days of untaken holiday she had accurred.

We are now taking this case to employment tribunal on the following grounds:

  • Illegally changing contract and employer without consultation, amounting to an unfair dismissal without redundancy pay.
  • Illegally refusing a grievance complaint meeting with union representation present.
  • Repeated failures to send pay over the past year, forcing V to accrue overdraft fees and causing significant financial distress.

While this case goes to employment tribunal, we are looking for funds to support V financially. Direct donations are welcome, or you can buy any one of the learning resources and colouring books on V’s etsy store , each of which will come with a signed thank you note from her.

Thank you for your support

V, and the TEFL Workers’ Union

National Labour Relations Board Rules in Favour of Voodoo Doughnuts Workers

IWW-NARA

On October 6, 2021 NLRB found merit in and are reaching a settlement to bring back Voodoo Doughnut staff who were fired during a strike in June of 2021

Portland, OR — On October 6th, 2021, Doughnut Workers United-IWW (DWU) received word from the National Labor Relations Board that 7 of the 9 striking workers who were terminated will have their jobs reinstated with back pay upon the conclusion of our most recent Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Voodoo Doughnut. DWU was informed that two ULPs have settled in the union’s favour. These ULPs include charges concerning topics of managerial surveillance, the posting of union information in communal work spaces, workers entering the building off the clock, as well as the recall of seven of the nine terminated workers who were fired for going on a health and safety strike around the growing concerns of temperatures inside the restaurant, knowingly in direct violation of the national labor law.

In June of 2021, twelve workers went on strike due to

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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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Tel: 01202 557414

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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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.

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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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