IWW solidarity with Goldsmiths tutor fighting for employment rights
The London IWW is proud to stand in solidarity with the short course tutors at Goldsmiths University. In recognition of their struggle to secure employment and full employment rights, our union branch is making a donation of £200 to their legal defense fund.
While struggles of university tutors may, on the surface, appear remote from wider more ‘traditional’ working class struggles, our experience as a union demonstrates why this is not the case.
The IWW is home to the TEFL Workers’ Union, a union for workers in English language schools. The TEFL Workers’ Union comes across English language teachers who are classified as ‘self-employed’ all the time. We’ve won numerous employment tribunals and forced a number of employers to stop using ‘self-employed’ contracts for what are clearly directly-employed staff.
Beyond this, we are in the middle of our own major employment tribunal challenging fixed-term contracts at one of the largest and most influential language school chains in the world, Kaplan International. Kaplan operates both more traditional language schools and ‘pathways’ programs at university level.
Our tribunal, along with the tribunal of the Goldsmiths’ tutor, form part of a wider pushback against precarious working conditions – bogus self-employment, zero-hours contracts, fixed-term contracts, agency work, and privatisation – that has afflicted not only the education sector but the wider UK economy over the past few decades.
Our struggles are not isolated. The victory of the Uber drivers has inspired the legal challenge of the Goldsmiths’ tutors. Their victory – or the victory of our Kaplan teachers – will hopefully inspire the next group of workers to challenge their precarious contracts and contribute to the movement for decent, well-paying, and secure work for all.