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A fundraiser for online teachers

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Sacked before Christmas: A fundraiser for online teachers

Teachers at the Overseas Teacher joined the IWW and filed for an employment tribunal challenging their self-employed status before facing mass dismissal.

Union to match all donations up to a total of £1,500.

IMAGINE: You’re young. Motivated. Idealistic. You get a job as an online English teacher. You’re promised training and a qualification. 

When the job starts - a month later than promised - only then do you discover that you’re on a self-employed contract. Your pay: the minimum wage for your age, as little at £6.45/hr. You’re subject to a regime of fines. Management changes the terms of the contract on a whim.  

If you raise concerns - and you’re lucky enough to get a response - your manager tells you that it’s not their problem: it’s their business partner calling the shots. So take it or leave it, sunshine.

One day, you get an email telling you the program is being wound down. But you have a month: classes will run until the end of December. Then the very same day you get another email telling you that the program is closing immediately.  And because you’re ‘self-employed’, you won’t be getting any redundancy.

THE TEACHERS joined the IWW when The Overseas Teacher announced a unilateral change to their contracts. Their pay would drop from 30 minutes for each half hour lesson to only 25 minutes of pay for each 30-minute lesson. This, plus the steady stream of fines for lateness or sickness, meant sub-minimum wages across the company.

The Overseas Teacher justified all this because the teachers are ‘self-employed’ - despite the fact the company trains them, provides them with students, decides the terms of their contracts, and sets rates of pay.

Consider this: The Overseas Teacher threatened to fine teachers for drinking water on camera.

Imagine telling your plumber you’re going to dock their pay because they drank a sip of water while fixing your shower. Forget, for a moment, how morally morally reprehensible this is. If your customer has the power to tell you when you can and can’t drink water, they’re not your customer. They’re your boss.

All this discontent led to meetings between union reps and company management...meetings that went nowhere. So nine teachers, with the support of their workmates, filed for an employment tribunal to challenge their self-employed status.

THEN came Christmas massacre: the ‘free talk’ part of The Overseas Teacher was being closed. The teachers were out of a job.

The Overseas Teacher may have cancelled Christmas for these teachers, but the IWW won’t abandon them. We’re going to show The Overseas Teacher what solidarity really means.

We’ve set up a hardship fund to support these workers as they fight on. And, to let them know that the union has got their back, the London IWW will match every donation up to £1,500.

WE’RE ASKING you to make a contribution to support these courageous young workers. It’ll make their Christmas that much brighter. Every pound that’s donated will also be a small ‘f*ck you’ to the bosses at The Overseas Teacher. And that will make everyone’s Christmas a bit brighter.

Funds are being collected by Ryan McCready, an IWW caseworker, on behalf of the workers.


  • Chris Senior
    • £300 
    • 3 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Leanne Freeman
Ryan McCready

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