Protest hears Bruton must talk to English Language Teachers
Precarious work and low pay feeding profits as ELT sector booms
“English Language Teachers are teachers too”
June 21st: Unite, which organises English Language Teachers, today held a protest outside the Department of Education to demand that Minister Richard Bruton talk to ELTs and address their concerns. The protest follows Minister Bruton’s refusal earlier this year to meet the union and discuss a range of issues facing English Language Teachers, including precarious work and low pay.
As well as English Language Teachers, those present included Unite Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly and opposition politicians.
Union members handed in a letter reiterating the union’s concerns and request for a meeting with the Minister. They were accompanied by Unite Regional Organiser Roy Hassey, who pointed out that, when developing a strategy for the English Language Teaching sector, the Minister had consulted all stakeholders except teachers:
“Last October, Minister Bruton announced that the Government intended growing the number of international students studying in Ireland by 25 per cent over four years, and THE LATEST recent figures published by Marketing English in Ireland showed that the sector grew by 11 per cent in 2016. Yet, in developing a strategy for the sector, it seems Minister Bruton has consulted all stakeholders except teachers.
“The ELT sector is booming – and profits are being fed by precarious work and low pay. Bogus self-employment and the overuse of fixed-term or low-hours contracts are common in the sector, and Unite has even come across cases where no contracts at all have been issued. Low pay is endemic, with some school paying not far above the Living Wage. And most teachers are only paid for the hours they are in class: they are effectively expected to perform tasks such as preparing lessons and marking tests for free.
“Our message is clear: English Language Teachers are teachers too – and they deserve the same respect and protections as other teachers”, Mr Hassey said.
English Language Teacher Keith Murdiff added:
“I’ve worked full-time as an English Language Teacher for 10 years. Yet I have no sick pay entitlement, paternity leave or holiday pay. As a father, I worry every day that if my children got sick, I couldn’t afford time off to take care of them. Banks and lenders laugh at you when you explain the vagaries of your contract. I’m proud to be an ELT, and I love my job. I just want to be treated like every other worker”.
Roy Hassey said:
“Rather than simply focussing on the quantity of international students attracted by Ireland’s ELT sector, Minister Bruton needs to start focusing on the quality of jobs offered in the sector. We hope that the Minister will accede to our request for a meeting, and engage with teachers to ensure that ELT jobs are decent jobs”, Mr Hassey concluded.