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Ireland: protest over bogus ELT employment

Trade union Unite, which represents English language teachers in the UK and Ireland, have held a protest in Dublin to highlight the allegedly worrying levels of bogus self-employment in the ELT sector.

Unite protest bogus ELT self-employmentEnglish language teachers and students protested against bogus self-employment in the sector. Photo: Alex Klemm

 "We have been trying to lobby the minister for education but we're not making much headway"

A protest was held by approximately 50 students and teachers outside the Dublin College of Advanced Studies – one of the employers identified by Unite as engaging in unfair practices.

Unite regional organiser for the Republic of Ireland, Roy Hassey, described bogus self-employment as a serious issue that cheats English language teachers, students, and the state.

“Where a worker is falsely identified as self-employed, the employer does not have to pay any PRSI [social insurance] contributions or deduct PAYE,” he said.

“In some instances, schools have gone bust overnight leaving students and teachers high and dry”

“The worker is responsible for their own taxes and is significantly disadvantaged in respect of sick pay, holiday pay, maternity/paternity pay, unemployment benefit and pension entitlements. They may also not be covered by employment protection legislation in relation to issues such as unfair dismissal,” he added. 

He said that approximately seven schools had been identified as partaking in the practice.

 “We hope that highlighting the issue of bogus self-employment will cause all schools to re-think their employment practices and treat English language teachers with the respect they deserve,” Hassey said.

Hassey told The PIE News there had been several unsuccessful attempts to meet with the minister for education Richard Bruton to discuss issues of non-payments and discrimination against non-native English speaking teachers.

“We have been trying to lobby the minister for education but we’re not making much headway.

“We want to discuss a range of issues in the sector including evidence we have that teachers without English as their first language, such as those from South America, are being paid at a lower rate.”

Responding to a previous question on the relationship between ELT teachers and their employers, Bruton said it does not “come under the remit of my department”.

Irish Congress of Trade Unions assistant general secretary Owen Reidy told The PIE News his reasons for supporting the protest.

“EFL is seen as the Cinderella of the sector and [bogus self-employment] is putting teachers in a precarious position,” he said.

“EFL is very poorly regulated and in some instances, schools have gone bust overnight leaving students and teachers high and dry.

“It’s a massive representational issue for the country and for Irish tourism,” he added.

Last year the Irish Government announced plans to increase the value of the international education sector to €2.1 billion by 2020.

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