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

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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.

The Working Class has no country! Solidarity with Brazilian couriers in Dublin.

Borders serve only the bosses, states are cross-class alliances. Away with them!

From IWW Ireland.

Brazilian Deliveroo couriers in Dublin have been leading a campaign against xenophobic attacks and thefts.

All of us who have worked as couriers know the physical dangers we face on a day to day basis. Not only must we navigate urban traffic, often in the dark or adverse conditions, but we have very little control over the areas we travel to, and those of us on bikes and mopeds are continuously physically exposed.

These factors are compounded by inequalities within society around race, nationality, gender, sexuality, age, physical ability, and so on. An area that feels safe to a white man, might not feel so safe to woman of colour, or some may face racial profiling from police or Immigration authorities as they go about their jobs.

On top of this, our work require that we carry around expensive equipment, whether vehicles or smartphones. This can make us targets for thieves, who in certain areas have set up strategies specifically targeting couriers for their vehicles, smartphones, and whatever else they may be carrying.

The arms-length nature of our relationship with our ’employers’ means that they can shirk most of the responsibility for our safety or for any loss or damage to equipment. Where insurance schemes are offered, they are limited in scope and can be hard to access.

These are all aspects of precarious employment – various means by which risk is pushed down on to us, the workers, while those who employ us are set to reap the rewards.

In Dublin they are setting an example in how to challenge this state of affairs – by standing together, collectivising the struggle, and forcing those who seek to reap the rewards to account for the risks we must face.

From across the UK and Ireland we declare solidarity with our fellow couriers in Dublin, and all those who stand up against violence and xenophobia in their workplaces and beyond.

We can only fight precarity with solidarity!

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. 

Medical support for migrant workers

Some migrant workers can’t access NHS services. Doctors of the World has a national helpline and a clinic in London, and some limited popup clinics elsewhere.

 

“If you’re having problems getting healthcare our team can give you free and confidential support – whatever your immigration status and wherever you live in the UK.”

Find a clinic

Solidarity with Italian Co-Operative Ri-MAFLOW!

The IWW calls for solidarity with Italian workers Co-Operative Ri-MAFLOW to help it survive. We urge our members to read the below statement and do what they can to help. Share their story, donate to the cause, encourage other organizations to put out similar statements in solidarity with Ri-MAFLOW.

SOME TIME AGO, the owners of a factory in a deprived area of South West Milan dismissed all of the workers and shut down the factory. 330 people lost their jobs in one day. The factory was abandoned.

THEN, about 6 years ago some people got together and reclaimed the factory. They started a self managed co-op. They started experimenting with reusing and recycling raw materials. They built a network with local businesses to help this deprived area flourish. Together with other groups, they founded a grassroots economy and social project called FuoriMercato (Outside the Market). They employed 120 people.

NOW, the local authorities have shut Ri-MAFLOW down. Their President Massimo Lettieri was arrested and charged with criminal activities linked to unlawful waste treatment. From its start, Ri-MAFLOW has been at the forefront of experimenting with reclaiming and reusing raw materials in an ecological way. Because of this, they are now accused of playing an active part in unlawful treatment of waste materials. Their assets have been seized. Everyone has lost their job and their wages. Massimo Lettieri has been in jail for a couple of months and because he is under investigation he cannot receive any letters or messages of solidarity from outside.

SO, we encourage people to support the cause. There are some materials in English you can download from their website and share (link below). You can donate money. You can ask your activist groups, networks, organisations, to publish a statement of solidarity with Ri-MAFLOW.

https://rimaflow.it/index.php/2018/08/10/rimaflow-vivra-materiali-per-la-campagna/

Solidarity with German Couriers fighting Deliveroo

From iww.org.uk

On the 13th April, workers, trade unionists and activists in cities all over Germany will be holding a day of action – dubbed ‘Black Friday’ – in protest against the union-busting activities of Deliveroo in Germany, along with seeking to highlight the general shoddiness of the companies approach to their workers.

Union Busting at Deliveroo

In November 2017 Deliveroo drivers expressed their wish for a works council to the management in Cologne. They organised themselves via the Facebook page ‘Liefern am Limit’ (Delivery at the limit) and in the Trade Union NGG.

The management in Berlin reacted by deliberately melting down its permanent staff, stating that in future it would only use self-employed couriers.

Until then, riders were employees – albeit only with 6 month contracts, and amongst the couriers that Deliveroo dismissed either by direct dismissal or the non-renewal of contracts was also the Chairman of the Works Council election board.

Further to this, and to prevent attempts by workers to organise in the future, Deliveroo is changing the way that it, and its couriers, communicate with each other. Previously, using the company ‘HipChat’ App, couriers were able to communicate freely with each other, but following changes made to the app they are only able to contact their dispatcher.

This lock down of communication for workers is not only a gross attempt to limit their ability to organise, but also limits their ability to manage their work effectively. Before, they were able to chat with each other all over Germany and enabled them to exchange shifts and collectively help each other on their own.

According to the ‘aktion ./. arbeitsunrecht e.V.‘ who are leading this action in Germany, this ban on communication is an attempt by Deliveroo to “prevent the works council and union organizing ‘virus’ from spreading throughout Germany.”

Poor practices and precarious employment

Alongside highlighting the direct attack by the company on worker’s attempts to organise, the day of action seeks to highlight the poor practices of Deliveroo more generally as well as the precarious position workers in the industry face including:

  • Bogus self-employment
  • Fixed-term contracts as a threat against unionizing
  • Low wages that are not enough to live on
  • Antisocial experiments with zero euro per hour contracts and one-hour shifts

These issues are familiar to us in these islands, with couriers organising within the IWW’s RooRiders and Couriers Networks echoing these sentiments time and again – these issue are not just local, or national, these are international problems which are a direct result of Deliveroo’s (and other similar companies) business model which seeks to get rich off the exploitation of its workers.

What are we doing?

The IWW is calling on couriers up and down the UK to come out on the 13th April to show their support an solidarity for their fellow workers in Germany.

Whether by small scale demo’s expressing solidarity or large scale mass-walkouts, the IWW will provide their full support to workers on the day looking to show their support – let’s show them that despicable union-busting activity and poor conditions are not acceptable and that there is a growing world-wide movement fighting back against their brazen exploitation!

I’m not a courier, what can I do?

Solidarity should always spread beyond the boundaries of an industry to exert the greatest amount of pressure and publicity. If you don’t directly work for Deliveroo or a similar company, you can:

  • Organise your workplace to put on a show of solidarity – get in touch with organising@iww.org.uk if you need support
  • Share the story via social media.  aktion ./. arbeitsunrecht e.V. have created some great facebook and twitter banners for use on your social media profile
  • Petition Deliveroo to stop their union-busting activities in Germany and to listen to their riders demands!