Unite challenges MEI on low wages
August 3rd: Unite, which organises English Language Teachers, today challenged Marketing English in Ireland, the body representing English Language Schools, to defend the low wages paid to teachers. The call follows an analysis of the Institute’s own data revealing that many workers in the sector end up earning less than the Living Wage of €11.70 per hour.
Commenting, Unite Regional Organiser Roy Hassey said:
“Unite has long argued that the English Language Teaching sector is thriving on the backs of workers, and now we find that the industry body, Marketing English in Ireland, has essentially admitted poverty pay rates.
“According to MEI’s own figures published in March, the sector employs 1,000 teachers and 550 administrative staff on a full time basis, increasing to 2,000 teachers and 1,000 administrative staff during the summer months, while the total gross wage bill is approximately €49.5 million. Averaging that figure out over the year, the sector employs roughly 1,250 teachers and 662 administrative staff – or 1,912 staff in all.
“One of the issues depressing ELT teachers’ pay is the fact that most are only contracted for a 30-hour week, rising to 39 hours when taking into account ‘non-contact’ hours – hours spent preparing lessons and marking tests for which they are not paid.
“When contact hours are included, the MEI’s own figure show workers in the ELT sector earning an hourly wage of €12.73. This falls to €11.49 – less than the Living Wage – when employer’s PRSI is factored out. It should, of course, also be noted that there is a growing prevalence of bogus self-employment and other abusive contract arrangements in the sector with many employers therefore not paying PRSI.
“While there are several variables in these calculations, including rising incidence of bogus self-employment in the sector, one thing is clear: on the MEI’s own admission, the English Language Teaching sector is built on poverty pay.
“Unite is challenging MEI to defend the low wage culture in the ELT sector”, Roy Hassey concluded.