Staff at the Grafton College in Portobello in Dublin have occupied their workplace after discovering that their company had not paid their wages. By suddenly declaring itself insolvent, the company has forced teachers and administrators to face into Christmas in a desperate state of insecurity.
Grafton College has two directors, Saeed Rehman and Nicholas Kelly of 7 Upper Dargle Road, Bray. On November 20th they filed accounts but sought an exemption from a full audit. The limited returns showed that the equity of the company had declined from €556,392 in 2016 to a mere €23,936 in 2017. A huge loan of over €400,000 has been taken out – but there was no evidence it has been used to buy more equipment or hire staff.
It was siphoned out for other purposes, eventually leaving the staff in this crisis situation.
The treatment of the Grafton College staff is symptomatic of what is happening in the English language teaching industry.
According to Roy Hassey, a UNITE official, the average salary of teachers hovers around €16 or €17 an hour. But these are only for class contact hours. There is no payment for preparation or correction – as is customary in the state sector. There are also no proper sick pay schemes and staff are kept in roll over contracts. A deliberate effort is made to break their service so that they do not gain legal rights to either a Contract of Indefinite Duration or basic legal protections.
Saeed Rehman has a number of other businesses in Britain and workers believe that his sudden disappearance is linked to a strategy of putting more money into his businesses there.
In the meantime, workers are treated like disposable hankies in a system driven by pure greed.
Ironically, students who pay up to €2,000 to study in language schools, are some protection because the owners, who have grouped themselves into the Marketing English In Ireland (MEI) re-deploy them to other schools when one of their members gets into ‘trading difficulties’.
But they offer no protection to the staff who create their profits.
Yet the Grafton College closure will lead to 400 students being sent to other language schools. They will need teachers and administrators to cater for their needs . So the question is : why do the teachers get no protection?
The staff are demanding that their wages are paid immediately rather than having to wait for up to a year to get their money back from the state’s insolvency fund.
But they also want the new Minister for Education to come down to the school to say what exactly he is going to do to offer worker in the industry some protection.
- You can support the staff by promoting their hashtag #graftonteachers
- Riase funds in your workplace to support them
- Join any assemblies or protests they call.