Callout for submissions: Unpaid labour in the language teaching industry

End Unpaid Work!

As part of a developing project, the Angry Language Brigade is requesting submissions about the experiences of unpaid labour by language teaching workers.

In all types of teaching, unpaid prep time is part of the job. What’s not so apparent is all the other free labour that goes into ensuring language schools continue to function.

Language school workers regularly feel the pressure to attend unpaid meetings, training sessions, social activities, and special events. In an industry where favouritism all too often trumps experience, we sometimes even face negative consequences for not attending these supposedly optional outings.

In a school where one of our members worked, unpaid IT and admin interns provide a worrying percentage of the labour in their respective departments. In the same school, many teachers are placed into unpaid “speaking classes” so they can gain “experience” and “training”.

These practices are far too common across the industry, but sharing our stories can be an important step in fighting back.

The Angry Language Brigade would like to hear your stories about the unpaid work that goes on in language schools. Once we’ve collected a number of stories, we’ll post up some excerpts and might even try to offer some advice about how language teaching workers can fight back.

We can be reached by private message here on libcom or you can email us at TEFLsolidarity (at) gmail.com

Also, feel free to post your stories in the comments section below.

You can be as specific or anonymous as your want. Use a fake name for yourself and your language school. Alternatively, we’re happy to name-and-shame bad bosses, so don’t feel like you have to hold back either.

Maybe you’ve had some success fighting back against unpaid labour. If so, we’d especially love to hear from you!

Finally, we’d just like to emphasise that this isn’t limited to teachers. After all, receptionists, teachers, admin, IT, and sales staff – we’re all in the same boat. We have the same bosses and we should be sticking together.

Posted By

Angry Language ...
Jun 17 2014 20:08

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  • The Angry Language Brigade would like to hear your stories about the unpaid work that goes on in language schools.

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Comments

Steven.
Jun 18 2014 08:58

Sounds good, I hope you get some useful info!

By the way, on "seniority" in the UK this isn't a factor in anything any more, and basically the law means that it can't be because it was found to be discriminatory on the basis of age.

Of course, this is not (yet at least) the case in the US, where I am assuming the person who wrote that sentences from…

Maybe you could change the wording the text to "experience"…

Angry Language ...
Jun 18 2014 09:05

Yup, good point Steven. It was very much "seniority" in the informal sense - an expectation that length of service is respected in terms of job security. But, you're right, experience is much better.

eflteacherinthe...
Feb 25 2018 06:59

I am writing this post to warn people about Chatsworth Summer School -with summer camps in Sozopol and Sveti Vlas- and the recently opened branch of this language school in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria. The owner of this language school -Marieta Georgieva- hires foreigners advertising great salaries and working conditions. She then promises them on arrival that the rent for their flats will also be covered by the school.

She follows the same modus operandi with everybody...by the second month she stops paying both salary and rent and threatens teachers that if they tell anything to the Bulgarian police she has the contacts and means to ruin their teaching careers. She has gone as far as telling one of my former colleagues she would bribe a Bulgarian official to make sure he got a criminal record who would stop him from working for a language school ever again.

When teachers resign they are also forced to sign a document which states they will never speak to anyone about the activities witnessed inside the school. Those have included:

1/ Carrying out Skype interviews with candidates from outside the EU telling them they do NOT need a visa to work in Bulgaria. She has planned to hire for summer camp 2018 candidates from India and Ghana; the Ghanaian man will pretend to be a US citizen and if any British teachers bring this to the attention of the authorities she has promised to harm them. The problem is that she probably means that. Those are not "empty" words.

2/providing documents in Bulgarian only and closing the doors of the building until the teacher agrees to sign the document... later we found out the document stated that if we resigned we would promise not to work in Bulgaria for any other language school for a period of minimum 5 years.

3/ Well-known Bulgarians popping in at the language school with envelopes full of cash. We never knew what for but we suspected it has something to do with money laundering and connected to the restaurants Marieta Georgieva's husband has in Sozopol, Thailand, Qatar and Dubai.

Three of us have received death threats after resigning -in my case I have had to change my telephone number and moved flat; two of my former colleagues have left Europe altogether out of fear- seven of us are owed salaries and a further 12-13 colleagues are harassed over the phone by this woman demanding them to come back to work for her.

The Bulgarian authorities are aware of the situation but given the level of wealth of Marieta Georgieva -and the fact her assistant Veneta Georgieva is an active accomplice in the threats to the former teachers- they are doing nothing about it. After all Bulgaria is the most corrupt country in the EU so who cares what happens to a bunch of Britons/Irish etc?

Anyone with information on organizations which deal with these cases are welcome to contact me.

Three of us would be willing to provide all the documentation -fortunately we have written evidence of some of the illegal activities carried out at the school- and speak out about what is going on at Chatsworth. And if you are a teacher reading this and Marieta calls you to offer a job...RUN! The level of stress we have gone through is insane -and still ongoing- and one of the teachers resigned 4 YEARS ago and she is still receiving threats and "reminders" not to speak out.

R Totale
Feb 25 2018 11:03

I'm really sorry to hear that you've been through that. I'm far from an expert on Bulgaria, but after doing a brief bit of research, I've found that there's a Bulgarian radical union of some kind called APC/ARS who seem to be roughly the equivalent of the kinds of groups that took these cases up in the UK: http://arsindikat.org/bg/ You can email them at arsindikat@gmail.com There's also a fb page in some way connected to them at https://www.facebook.com/BgWorker.eu, but the actual bgworker.eu website is down, and the fb page doesn't seem to have been updated since 2015, which isn't reassuring.
Oh, there's also this fb page: https://www.facebook.com/%D0%A0%D0%B0%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%B3%D0%BB%D0%B0%D1%81-186438778055809/ and attached blog, which I think is called like Workers' Voice, and seems to be at least partly about sharing stories like yours: https://rabglas.blogspot.co.uk

Hopefully some of that might be of some use - my knowledge of Bulgarian is less than 0, which is a bit of a disadvantage when trying to find out about Bulgarian unions, hopefully if you speak some Bulgarian you might be able to find out more.