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'They need to step up': Teachers at Dublin English language school strike for union recognition

Staff at Delfin Language School say management have refused to recognise trade union Unite.

TEACHERS AT Dublin language school are striking today over pay, working conditions and union recognition. 

The escalation of the dispute at Delfin English School on Parnell Square comes following attempts by trade union Unite to engage with management in a bid to address workers’ concerns.

Teachers at the school have said that management won’t recognise their trade union membership. As a result, they have held a number of half-day strikes in the lead-up to today’s full-day stoppage. 

Shane Ryan has worked at Delfin since March 2018. “Promises haven’t been kept,” he told TheJournal.ie, and questions remain over teachers’ pay at the school. 

Classes at Delfin run for 3 hours and 15 minutes, according to Ryan, but teachers are not paid for the 15-minute break(s) each day. 

Ryan also said that issues around Christmas bonuses have been raised by staff at Delfin, who are aiming to enter dialogue with the school through Unite. 

“Bonuses haven’t been paid…These weren’t given to us. The reason we were told is the school couldn’t afford it,” Ryan said. 

“When we asked for proof or a timeline for when it could afford it, [management] shut down. 

“So, complete lack of communication, unpaid work and no union recognition,” said Ryan, who added that staff want to improve communication with the school’s management. This can’t happen, he said, until staff get union recognition. 

‘Step Up’

Charlene Kane, who has worked at Delfin for one year, told TheJournal.ie that preparing lessons for students takes considerable time outside of normal class hours that teachers are paid for. 

“If you want to give decent lessons you have to sit at home, think about what you’re going to do, what materials you’re going to use.

“I think a lot of people who aren’t teachers…don’t realise how much goes into it outside of classroom hours.”

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“There are some good [language] schools out there in terms of terms and conditions,” said Ryan. “Delfin is a good to work in but they need to step up and try to make it better and let us help them make it better.”

Trade union Unite has called on Delfin’s management to engage with teachers and to enter discussions around working conditions. 

“Management has consistently refused to address teachers’ concerns or to negotiate with them collectively through the union of their choice, leaving workers with no option but to take industrial action,” Unite Regional Officer Brendan Byrne has said.

“Our members have been trying to address a range of issues from low pay to unpaid breaks and what amount to temporary layoffs over Christmas,” he said. 

Employers in Ireland are not obliged to recognise trade unions. Ireland has a voluntary system, instead. 

Teachers at Delfin plan two additional full-day stoppages next Monday and Tuesday. 

Delfin English School did not reply to queries about whether or not it planned to recognise Unite by the time of publishing. 

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