Pickets continue today at Delfin English School while members in IBAT have also voted to take industrial action and will be holding a series of one-hour stoppages with the potential for escalation if issues in dispute are not resolved.
Teachers at Delfin have been taking strike action from November 11th to November 15th and will continue to do so from December 2nd to December 6th. Teachers at IBAT have held and will be holding one-hour stoppages (morning and afternoon) during the week, today, and Friday, as well as on November 18th, 22nd, 25th and 29th.
Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Brendan Byrne said:
“The international education sector, of which ELT is a large part, is booming, with the government projecting that the value of the sector will grow to over €2 billion by next year. Committed, experienced and highly-skilled teachers are central to that success, yet they are often low-paid and often employed on precarious contracts.
“Rather than talking collectively to teachers about their concerns through the union of their choice, school management often rely on a culture of intimidation to squeeze pay and conditions while maximising their profits.
“Based on the feedback from our members, Unite believes that unrest in the sector will continue to spread unless and until there is a negotiated collective agreement. We are hopeful that the Labour Court will recommend such an agreement in the near future”, Mr Byrne said.
Article 28 of the EU charter of fundamental rights states that workers and employers, or their respective organisations, have, in accordance with Community law and national laws and practices, the right to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and, in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action. Our own national legislation supports and encourages harmonious relations between workers and employers.
November saw the sudden passing of our dear friend and colleague Stephen Cullen. His death was a profound loss and his absence is still felt to this day. Stephen was usually one of the first acquaintances you made upon starting work at The English Studio. He was keen to know you, get a sense of your politics and give you more than a sense of his. During breaks, the staffroom where Stephen held court was a jovial place where colleagues couldn’t help forgetting that they were at work.
During his long career in education Stephen worked as both teacher and Deputy Principal at Loreto Balbriggan before moving on to the private ELT sector. Typical of his generation, Stephen understood the value of and the need for trade unions. Many have spoken of his dedication to UNITE and he was a constant vocal presence both at meetings and at protests. Indeed, the struggle we all face in this hostile economic climate is but another reason that I miss him. As we move forward, his memory guiding us, we do not say goodbye but rather in his own words, “hasta bananas”.
Since 2018 our members have tried to engage with Delfin with regard to their terms and conditions of employment and they have genuine concerns. They just want somebody to go in with a professional face on and be able to put forward their claims and what they feel is justifiable for their hours and their holidays.
Get paid for doing work they don’t get paid for at the moment. It’s as simple as that.
The sector is precarious. The students have certain guarantees if one of the schools or colleges goes bankrupt. Those students will transfer to to other schools. But there’s no certainty for our members in regard to their terms and conditions and what contracts they have. The company can employ people and let people go at short notice.
dispute escalates, English Language Teachers strike!
stoppage follows management’s refusal of collective bargaining.
Trade union Unite, which represents all teachers working in Delfin English School, will picket the school Delfin Dublin from 09.00 hrs to 18.00 hrs October 7th. The escalation of this dispute follows repeated attempts by Unite to engage with management in a bid to address workers’ concerns.
“Management has consistently refused to address teachers’ concerns or to negotiate with them collectively through the union of their choice, leaving workers with no option but to take industrial action said Unite Regional Officer Brendan Byrne, further stating that
“Our members have been trying to address a range of issues from low pay to unpaid breaks and what amount to temporary lay-offs over Christmas.
“The resolution of this dispute is in the hands of management: they just need to pick up the phone and talk to their workers through their union, Unite.
“This is the first strike action in a sector where precarious working conditions are the norm. Unless schools move to engage with workers collectively, it is unlikely that tomorrow’s action will be the last in the sector”, Mr Byrne warned.
On Monday morning a strike for dignity, respect and workplace democracy occurs. Please offer whatever support you feel appropriate during the work stoppage. If you have an afternoon class and can spare an hour to stand beside your fellow teacher then please do. If not, then find out about the work stoppage through the following information and share it with your fellow workers, family and friends. Only with our combined effort and support can we achieve our goals.
Good Luck and Solidarity!
ELT Unite Branch
Industrial action at prominent school set for Monday [September 23rd] in dispute over pay and conditions in a sector notorious for its precarious work practices
Delfin Language School based on Parnell Square, has refused to recognise and negotiate with representatives of Unite the Union, the union that represents the English Language teachers. Unite Regional Officer Brendan Byrne explained the reasons for the dispute between the workforce and management.
“The workers have been left with no alternative but to take industrial action as a result of the approach taken by management. They have totally failed to address the concerns of the workforce in relation to three main areas of contention: the need for pay to reflect the increased cost of living, the volume of unpaid work done by English Language Teachers on a daily basis, and the fact that teachers are left with no choice but to sign on for social welfare payments over the Christmas period.
“The workforce has attempted continuously to engage with management through Unite’s best offices. Unfortunately management has adopted an approach of refusing to recognise or negotiate with ourselves.
“From speaking to the workers, the overall feeling is one of regret that things have come to this point. The teachers want to do their jobs but working conditions in the sector are just unacceptable. Management’s consistent refusal to engage collectively with workers through their trade union, Unite, has left the workers with no option but to take action. The workers have decided to restrict their initial action to only a three hour stoppage – hopefully this will act as a catalyst for management to adopt a more conciliatory approach”, Mr Byrne said.
Next Mon 23rd Sept will see the first Unite picket on a language school in Ireland. Delfin Teachers have been refused collective bargaining rights and are exercising their right to take strike action.Please RT and ask @Delfinschool to respect their teachers & recognise the union.
I’m an ex-union rep myself and come from a family of trade unionists, so . . . I’ve been saying for years that the industry needs to be more collective and organised, so it’s lovely to be able to to help out in whatever small way I can. Amazing work everyone’s doing. Hats off! Hugh Dellar Teacher, teacher trainer and author at LEXICAL LAB and National Geographic Learning
It’s good to hear that some progress is being made in terms of teachers’ working lives and I wish you all the best in your current campaign. It was in fact talking to teachers in Ireland when I was last there two years ago that really alerted me to the systemic iniquities in employment conditions. Thanks once again, and you can count on my support. Best wishes
Students and teachers all over the world are joining again together to fight the existential threat that faces us. The ELT unite branch would like to kindly facilitate you in teaching your students with our free lesson plan.
Follow us on Instagram @eltunite and perhaps we can protest together at an event near each other. This is one of the Dublin events but other events near you can be located on the Global Climate Strike website.
After months of successful engagement with our branch we thank Mr. Patrick King for his careful and concise report on the sector. It is rare to have a document which encapsulates the reasons for our existence as a motivating and organising force in the sector.
Welcome to the official home of the English Language Teachers branch of Unite. We hope that any information you need about the sector can be found here. If you can’t find what you’re looking for please get in touch and we’ll be happy to find the relevant information and add it to the website.