In another victory against a now-notorious wage-stealing language school, a London English teacher has won a four-figure wage theft settlement.
Before anyone gets too excited, this is not about the Leicester Square School of English – that campaign is still ongoing and actions are planned for the future. This story relates to an action that occurred last November, but could not be publicised until now for legal reasons.
The worker in question is the second employee to successfully speak up and fight back against the school's shady payment practices.
Three items were in question: wholly bogus and unpaid “training” lessons, lack of proper holiday accrual, and underpayment of preparation hours.
After joining a the IWW and hooking up with the Angry Language Brigade, the worker was joined by a dozen supporters – including a number of fellow TEFL workers – for a 'march on the boss'. In other words, the group, sporting hi-viz IWW vests, accompanied the worker into the school's central London office.
Upon arrival, the bosses made a swift retreat, physically holding the door shut behind them. Not to be sidelined, the crowd – accompanied by pan and ladle percussion – broke out into a rousing rendition of Solidarity Forever.
At this point, the group had to deal with the bosses' counter-response. First a little jobsworth suffering from an acute case of bosslust attempted to block the managers' door. And then, to no-one's surprise, the police arrived.
Undeterred, the aggrieved worker went to the office door, coolly and confidently saying her piece, and slipped the demand letter under the door.
Already feeling victorious, the crew retired to the pub for a well-deserved drink. An hour later, the worker received an email from the bosses saying, in short, that they'd meet all the demands.
However, the matter did not end there. While we’d won in principle, the bosses wanted the worker sign a gag order promising not to discuss the issue - fairly pointless considering the English Language Gazette had got a hold of the story in no time, but whatever.
So began weeks and weeks (and weeks) of back-and-forth over what the agreement would say, who would pay for the lawyer, what clauses were be to added or removed… In the end, the worker signed.
Now, here’s the beautiful part: as a result of the way the agreement was written – and keep in mind here, it’s the boss who pushed so hard for this agreement – the employer was obligated to pay the worker until the date the agreement was signed. The upshot? Another four figure payment on top of the initial settlement!
Oh, and that sycophantic little nob who attempted to block the bosses’ door. Guess who’s the new “assistant director”? 40 pieces of silver, eh?
The worker at the centre of the struggle had this to say, “While I'm overjoyed to get this money, I know many other former and current members of staff have also had money stolen from them by these unscrupulous employers. I hope my victory will make it easier for others to come forward challenge this school's wage-stealing ways.”
Her IWW rep backed up those sentiments:
“This is a fantastic result for the worker. It was undoubtedly down to the use of direct action and tough negotiations. The workplace at the centre of this issue thought they could treat people however they chose. We proved them wrong. This now sends out a reassuring message to workers in the English school community in London – we can and will protect you. I hope more people join the IWW as a result”.
A rousing, if slightly surreal video of the action is below. Watch it and get pumped! Thanks to the London IWW for their hard work bringing it together.
If you've been made to work unpaid as part of a bullsh*t training program or haven't received your proper holiday time, it's time to speak up! Don't hesitate to contact the ALB or the IWW to ensure you get what you get what you deserve.
That video was a bizarre, but
That video was a bizarre, but somehow quite enjoyable.. even compelling, watch..
Congrats!! Although, I can't
Although, I can't see the video. There's just an extra line break before the last paragraph.
that will be because of the HTTPS. Your browser may only be displaying secure content, so you can choose the option to display all content, or what would probably be easier is just to delete the "s" from the URL and browse the normal site.
I am writing this post to
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.