Socially-Distanced Protest Against Unsafe ELE School Reopenings

Unite English Language Teachers to protest the early and unsafe re-opening of the English Language Education sector.

When: Monday, July 19th 1pm

Where: Department of Further and Higher Education, Malborough Street, Dublin 1

Unite’s English Language Teachers’ branch last night [July 14th] voted to call a march of teachers and students to protest the Department’s plans to re-open English language schools on Monday July 19th – with less than one week’s notice to students and teachers.

Richie Browne, Regional Coordinating Officer for Unite explained the concerns of his union’s membership among English language teachers:

“Our members employed in the English-language teaching sector have numerous concerns about this decision by the Department; one of the main ones being that most teachers and their students are in younger age groups and are still unvaccinated. These concerns were raised with the government’s working group, of which Unite English Language Teachers’ branch is a member, but they don’t appear to have been taken into account in any way. “The decision of the Department’s COVID-19 Working Group to suddenly reopen the English Language Education industry will give free rein to the predominant, large school owners whose response during Covid was completely inadequate. They sought to write ‘self-regulating’ codes and ignored calls for sick pay, elected staff representation, and safe external reporting mechanisms for non-compliance with safety protocols”, Mr Browne said.

Unite is asking teachers and supporters to assemble at the Spire at 12:30 and march to the Department of Education. The timing of the protest march is set to coincide with the day when the Department is permitting school owners to re-open Ireland’s English Language Education sector for face-to-face classes.

Read on the Unite Website

If you cannot attend the protest, please consider signing the petition, found here.

The third annual Stephen Cullen Memorial Lecture to take place via Zoom featuring keynote speakers Hugh Dellar and Naoise Dolan with live music from Niamh Parsons.

On Tuesday, October 27th, 2020, at 7pm Irish time, the ELT Branch will present the third annual ‘Stephen Cullen Memorial Lecture’ via Zoom. We are delighted to announce some very special guests for this years event. One of ELT’s most renowned and respected teacher trainers and authors, Hugh Dellar, will be speaking and answering questions. He will be joined by former teacher turned novelist, Naoise Dolan. Her debut novel, ‘Exciting Times’ has been critically acclaimed on both sides of the Irish sea and we will hopefully get an insight into her inspiration for the main character’s struggles in the realms of the ELT industry.

Accompanying them ( …and us!) is internationally acclaimed Irish folk singer, Niamh Parsons, to add touches of particularly distinctive vocal class to this year’s proceedings. There will be several spot prizes to be won on the night as well.

Attendance is only possible by invitation which all members will receive this week, beginning October, 20th. Only those who RSVP will have access to this years event. Please contact us via email for enquiries. We hope you will join us for what promises to be and exciting and engaging evening as the world of ELT comes to terms with the turmoil of 2020 and beyond. Don’t forget to RSVP for the ZOOM link! We are very much looking forward to seeing and hearing from you on this very special occassion. Until then…

ELT Branch Return to Work Survey October 2020


As COVID-19 cases rise rapidly and the government imposes a 5-Level plan for living with COVID-19, members are encouraged to complete this short survey about their own experience in their respective schools about returning to
‘face-to-face’ classes on campus. Please take 5 mins to complete the survey today. The data will be used to help protect teachers and their families in the coming weeks and months ahead. Thank you for your participation.

Branch members join inspirational Debenhams workers on the Dublin picket line.

Above: Day 156 on the picket line. Members of the ELT branch, Rachel Kavanagh (far left); Branch Chairman, Ciaran Gallagher; Branch Treasurer, John Whipple and Margaret Gillan (far right), visit striking Mandate members at the Debenhams picket line in Parnell Street, Dublin last week.

Last Thursday, Sept. 10th, members of the Unite ELT Branch and Committee visited the Debenhams store picket line to hand over a letter of support to our comrades. Having made a donation from our branch the previous week, we arranged to follow up by handing over a signed letter of solidarity and support to the inspirational strikers on the Parnell Street goods entrance to the store.

The strikers spirits were high and we were given a warm welcome by the striking Mandate members who at the time were approaching a remarkable 160 days on the picket lines at all Debenhams stores around Ireland.

The determined Debenhams staff are seeking 4 weeks (”2 +2″ ) pay per year worked in their redundancy settlement negotiations with liquidator KPMG. The total amount offered by KPMG on behalf of the retailer was a paltry €1 million, which is nowhere near the €13 million workers say is due to them in a previous collective agreement with management. Workers claim the company, which still has over 120 UK stores in operation and an estimated €95 million in cash reserves, can well afford to keep their word and stick to the collective agreement.

Some of the staff we met had been employed for over 20 years and were resolute in their intentions to maintain the blockade on the various Irish stores countrywide to prevent the company removing the stock, that they estimate to be worth at least €15 million in the Henry Street store alone.

It should be noted that if companies such as Debenhams can get away without having to honour their full redundancy obligations to staff in Ireland the statutory redundancy bill falls in the government’s lap. That means companies like Debenhams can rob their workers of their hard-earned entitlements after years and, in some cases, decades of loyal service and leave the Irish exchequer to pick up the tab. It’s an absolute scandal and you can only admire the courage and steely determination of the strikers to stand up to the bosses and KPMG. Just a couple of days prior to our visit, KPMG had actually withdrawn the derisory €1m. offer from the negotiating table.

The valiant Debenhams strikers have now spent a whopping 163 days on the picket lines which is the longest running strike/picket in the history of the Irish state.

Above: Handing over the letter of support.