People Before Profit Spoke to Colm, a striking teacher in Delfin Language School
“There is just no respect for English Language Teachers”
“The main reason we are on strike is that there is no respect for English Language Teachers. They treat us as if we are disposable and can live with a high degree of uncertainty because of their failure to manage and plan properly. People’s contracts can vary enormously between winter and summer. We need more security.
We want the school to recognise the unions and deal with the union. The school has been dealing with teachers individually but that has been abused. We want to be dealt with rationally in way that ensures we are all treated the same. They set up an Employees Forum in the place but that didn’t work. It couldn’t resolve any serious issues.
I have been working here for three years. I work about 40 hours a week when you include planning, but get paid for 30. They offered me a permanent contract for 20 hours a week but that was only after they heard we were getting organised. They also gave us a bonus of €150 to, not explicitly, try and make the union go away.
We are paid far less than teachers in other sectors. Part time lecturers in Institutes of Technology, some of whom are teaching languages, including English, get over €60 an hour. We get less than a third of that and we have had no increase for 18 months despite the fact that housing costs are through the roof.
We don’t get paid for our breaks. What do they want us to do? Keep teaching the students without a break? Any teacher knows there is a limit to students’ concentration. They need a break as much as we do. They won’t pay us when the School closes at Christmas forcing people to go on the dole.
An ERO (Employment Regulation Order) would help but I would be afraid that it might set pay and conditions at a low level. We need to be organised because across the sector conditions are even worse than they are here.
We will be out again next Monday morning. We welcome all support.”