Workers let down as Bruton washes hands of responsibility for English Language Teachers

unite-white-out-of-redUnite slams suggestion that Department has no role in securing workers’ rights

June 22nd: Trade union Unite, which represents English Language Teachers, has reacted angrily to a suggestion by the Department of Education that it has no role in regulating teachers’ working conditions.  The union was responding to a statement issued by the Department to RTE Drivetime yesterday stating that “The relationship between teachers and private providers of education is based on a private contract.  Issues relating to work conditions are a matter between the two parties and do not come under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills”.

Commenting, Unite Regional Organiser Roy Hassey said:

“The Government has identified English Language Teaching as a growth sector, and Minister Bruton announced last year that they intend growing the number of international students studying in Ireland by 25 per cent over four years.  Following a number of scandals, regulations are quite rightly being brought in to safeguard the interests of students.

“Yet the Minister and the Government apparently regard English Language Teachers as incidental to their plans for growing the sector.  In fact, the Department’s statement yesterday made it clear that they are washing their hands of any responsibility for working conditions in the sector, and this is consistent with the Minister’s refusal to meet us.

“The Department’s statement to Drivetime yesterday, referring to the relationship between teachers and their employers being based on a ‘private contract’ is particularly ironic given that the lack of decent contracts is one of the main issues facing English language teachers:  low-hours contracts are common, and Unite is even aware of cases where workers have not been given any contract.

“Rather than washing his hands of responsibility for the working conditions of English Language Teachers, Minister Bruton should sit down with us and ensure that the interests of teachers as well as students are central to an ELT strategy that works for all”, Roy Hassey concluded.

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