After joining the TEFL Workers Union, teachers at Delfin Language School in London have won paid meetings, paid CPDs, paid sick days, a pay policy, and an end to zero-hours contracts.
Teachers at Delfin Language School in London have joined the TEFL Workers Union, part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). As a result, they have won major improvements to their working conditions.
Prior to unionisation, Delfin contracts were copied-and-pasted templates off the internet that, in many instances, didn’t meet basic legal minimums. After a year-long campaign, the teachers now have paid meetings and CPD training sessions, five paid sick days, a pay structure and contracts that guarantee a minimum of 15 hours a week. With union support, the teachers also won back pay and a pay increase for three teachers who’d been unfairly denied a rise.
Throughout the campaign, workers have stuck together and stood up for themselves and each other. This has meant many things: taking out individual and collective grievances, setting up a shared email account to communicate collectively with management, demanding group meetings with senior managers, and organising a boycott of yearly appraisals.
On one occasion, an IWW representative in Ireland had to pay a visit to the main Delfin campus in Dublin in order to get a response from the school. Similarly, the London teachers’ negotiating hand was strengthened when their fellow Delfin teachers in Dublin joined the UNITE ELT union. Teacher-to-teacher and union-to-union communication increased the teachers’ power and made management aware that national boundaries would not prove a barrier to solidarity.
Throughout all of this, the IWW TEFL Workers Union has been instrumental in offering legal guidance, a meeting space, representation, training, and strategic advice.
One of the Delfin teachers had this to say about the value in joining the union and getting organised:
“I’m not exactly coming up for retirement, but I wish I’d done this ten years ago. All aspects of my working life until this last year have been in the hands of my employers and this has not worked out well for me. I’ll never let that happen again and neither should any other teacher.”
The struggle is not over. Delfin has agreed to meet their staff for formal negotiations and the teachers still want to secure paid prep time, better pay, and greater accountability and transparency from management. The IWW TEFL Workers Union will be there to help them achieve that.
If you work in a language school, the IWW is happy to sit down with you to discuss your contract and answer any questions you may have. We also offer training, advice, and representation in disciplinaries and grievances.
The TEFL Workers Union is open to all workers in language schools, including receptionists, admin staff, interns, cleaners, and sales staff. If you work at a language school and you have a problem at work, the IWW has got your back.