Teachers at Delfin Language School in London have been engaged in a long-year campaign in which they won paid sick days, paid trainings, paid meetings, and an end to zero hours contract. Since then, management has attempted to backstep on the promise of abolishing zero-hour contracts. Teachers have been taking a number of actions at work, and they are now asking for your support in a social media campaign to put pressure on management. You can find instructions here.
In late 2017, teachers at Delfin Language School in London began discussing the need for a pay rise. They brought the issue to their Director of Studies who told them to wait until the pay review scheduled for early 2018.
When the pay review finally came it was a mess. A total mess. Some (not all) teachers were called back into private meetings. Those who were given pay rises were told not to discuss the amount. When teachers queried how the pay rises were determined, they were given an assortment of illogical and contradictory answers.
Luckily, teachers did discuss their pay rises (or lack thereof) with each other and then began pressing management for a group meeting to discuss how pay rises were determined.
It was about this time that the staff at Delfin began joining the IWW. Through dogged persistence, a collective grievance, and union support, management finally agreed to provide a pay rise and back pay for three teachers.
As part of the union effort, teachers demanded that all staff be provided with contracts. When the contracts finally came, the teachers used this as an opportunity to press for improved terms and the implementation of a pay policy.
The campaign continued, including on one occasion teachers collectively boycotting their yearly appraisals. Their persistence paid off and resulted in negotiations between management and elected union reps.
At first, things seemed like they were going well: management had already agreed to paid meetings, paid training sessions, and five paid sick days. When management agreed to stop using zero-hours contracts and instead provide contracts that guaranteed 15 hours a week, the teachers thought things at Delfin really were changing for the better. New contract language on guaranteed hours was agreed between union reps and HR. Negotiations then moved on to other topics.
But then came the news that the “ownership” had changed his mind and staff would remain on zero-hours contracts. All this, despite the verbal promises from senior managers, agreed-upon language from HR, and management even distributing draft “guaranteed hours contracts”.
But Delfin teachers weren’t going to take this lying down. They began taking low-level actions at work that culminated in a “plan-in”. Ten out of the twelve teachers arrived at work on time, but spent the first hour in the staff room planning their lessons as a group. Management were given notice of the plan-in and had ample opportunity to return to the negotiating table. But management refused to reinstate the offer of guaranteed hours contracts.
Instead, Delfin began disciplinary action against eight of the employees who took part in the plan-in. In spite of this, the teachers weren’t intimidated, and organised leafletting sessions at the school to put pressure on management. Through unity and tough repping, they were able to ensure that all the disciplinaries were dropped.
The teachers have now called a social media campaign running for 24 hours on Monday the 12th of August:
Delfin language school has broken a promise to do away with zero-hours contracts and continue to refuse to pay staff for time spent planning and preparing lessons.
Teachers have stood strong and taken a series of actions to show management they’re determined to improve conditions at the school.
However, Delfin still doesn’t get the message, so please let them know on their:
#TEFL workers at @Delfinschool London need job security and decent pay. End #zerohours contracts, offer a 2019 pay rise, pay teachers for prep time.
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