Unite tells Oireachtas Committee that “culture of disregard for workers” is undermining potential of English Language Teaching sector

ELT branch logoStandards in QQA Bill need to be underpinned by additional legislation

June 19th: Unite, which represents English Language Teachers, has told the joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills that the potential of the Irish ELT sector to be a “world-class industry” is being undermined by a “culture of disregard” for workers.  Branch Secretary Colette Godkin was speaking during a stakeholder meeting on the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018, which addresses standards in the sector:

“Teaching English can be an immensely rewarding profession, offering the opportunity to make a real difference to our students’ lives. Many teachers would like for this to be their lifelong career, but unfortunately, the English Language Teaching industry in Ireland has been characterised by employment abuses, such as the overuse of fixed-term and low-hour contracts, and in some schools a lack of contracts, no entitlement to sick pay, discrimination against teachers who are not native speakers of English, and the targeting and harassment of union members.

“This is why we welcome the quality assurance standards in the QQA Bill and the amendments introduced regarding the International Education Mark, ensuring that if a school wishes to operate in Ireland, they will be obliged to abide by Irish employment law. However, the IEM should be underpinned by further supporting legislation to address the culture of disregard for workers which sadly pervades what could be a world-class industry.

“Unite has been happy to engage with mediator Pat King and the mediation process and we look forward to sitting down with employers with the aim of reaching a comprehensive agreement on matters such as stable hours, secure contracts, sick pay, pay scales, union recognition, and other issues, such as sudden school closures which have left teachers out of work and with unpaid wages. We are seeking a Sectoral Employment Order but we are prepared to explore in good faith whatever statutory instrument is best for our members and for all teachers”, Ms Godkin said.

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