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caroline italy



Joined: 09 Apr 2003
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 12:42 pm    Post subject: unprotected Reply with quote

I was just wondering if any country in the world offers ANY form of legal/social "protection" to ESL teachers. I live in Italy and after 20 years I still get shocked at the lousy conditions you are expected to accept and how helpless you are to actually change things. If any other category of workers got such a bad deal there would be a big fuss made - as it is, it's just a struggle to survive.

Need to form a trade union...but how???
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shirley



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 45
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 1:08 pm    Post subject: Unions in Italy Reply with quote

Please give us more information on the "conditions" you speak of and what type of institutions you're teaching in. There are several unions for teachers at public schools and universities in Italy. Are you referring only to private schools? France offers a lot of "protection", but of course they can circumvent the laws by operating in ways which do not violate the laws, but do prevent them from having to pay into the social security system, such as limiting your hours and requiring that you have a different "major employer" who does infact pay those taxes.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12323
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 2:17 pm    Post subject: TU Reply with quote

In both Italy and France there are powerful TU movements. I am pretty sure you would find something if you looked. Go for the ones affiliated to the large Confederations. CGIL in Italy and CGT in France. And in both cases there is effective legislation to protect labour against naughty employers.
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caroline italy



Joined: 09 Apr 2003
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 11:03 pm    Post subject: unprotected Reply with quote

Thanks for both replies (P.S. I'm a Scot, too). I wasn't really referring to out and out illegal stuff - more like legalised unfairness - like contracts which only last 9 months, leaving you unemployed for the summer. All of the private schools here in Italy (at least all the ones I've ever worked for or heard of) make full use of legal loop-holes to pay as little as possible, giving temporary contracts, no sickness benefit, no paid holidays, cancelled lessons = no pay, etc.

They get away with it because they're not actually doing anything prohibited by law (although if factory/office workers got treated like that there would be a big scandal) and the individual teacher can't do a great deal about it since all schools work seem to work in the same way - you can't walk out of them all, can you?

I'd never thought about the state teachers' trade unions but I suspect it's a different ball game and they may not be of much help. Still, it may be worth a bash. I'll let you know.
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shirley



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 45
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a great commentary on this subject in the job information journal under France called "know your rights" check it out and find out if the same or similar laws exist in Italy. There are some labor laws that are under EU regulation and these would need to be respected in Italy as well. It's been a few years since I worked in Italy, but we were paid sick days, holidays and paid 13 months per year; however, this was a university and we had a union.
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zakiah25



Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 155
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 12:33 am    Post subject: It's been on my "wish list" too Reply with quote

Yes Caroline, I've often thought about what you're talking about in your opening sentence in your original post on this subject.
Here, in the Middle East, we are very much subject to the whims and habits of local employers and an assortment of characters in positions of power.
Passport confiscations, delayed pay-days, unwarranted (and sometimes warranted) sackings often without notice, unpaid overtime, cramped classrooms/no resources/40+ students to a class,accommodations that resemble Hell, co-workers with unusual habits both in and out of the classroom etc etc are part and parcel of the scene here. When it affects us, we seem to be powerless so often it's a matter of "keeping your head down" and just getting on with the job.
As mere teachers, we lack "wasta" - any real power or influence to change things!
We put up with conditions because most of us choose to be here for whatever reasons usually economic, those that can't hack it either resign or just disappear (runners) and break their contracts.
Maybe, we need a TESOL/TEFOL International organisation to look after our interests?
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richard ame



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 319
Location: Republic of Turkey

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 7:57 am    Post subject: LOOK AFTER YOURSELF!!! Reply with quote

The idea of having some kind of protective body to look after guest workers interests is not without merit and I personally think that those of us who wish to join a professioal body that is recognised by the host country's education industry is a basic need. However in a country like Turkey unions are not seen as a voice that has any strength or value so basically you learn to look after yourself .
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caroline italy



Joined: 09 Apr 2003
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm even feeling a bit better just reading your replies - i.e. lots of us in the same boat. Zachiah's suggestion for an international body was, I suppose, what I was mulling over when I wrote the first posting, but I can't get my brain around the practicalities of organising such a thing - an international trade union! wow! Now that would be difficult... Realistically speaking, perhaps an international association which unites all ESL teachers regardless of where they're from or where they're working, which helps sub-groups within individual countries gather legal information to protect members, etc. and which could, I suppose, attempt to form a TU within that country - the main "mother" association acting as reference point, data base, meeting-point, etc.

You do learn to look after yourself, Richard, I agree with you, but especially if you're living in more isolated areas, the fight is quite lonely and demoralising.

Happy Monday to you all,
Caroline
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shirley



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 45
Location: Italy

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 8:59 am    Post subject: TESOL Reply with quote

There is such an organization, it's called TESOL International and its website is www.tesol.org. It has an advocasy section you can click. There is also a TESOL ITALY that you can join. They offer a lot of help to people who are interested in supporting the profession and the rights of professionals and standards in teaching. It's a quite useful organization.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12323
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 9:25 am    Post subject: tesol Reply with quote

TESOL is NOT a trade union. It is also run as an American organisation. The rival of course is IATEFL and that too is definitely NOT a TU.

If you want a TU to represent you at your workplace, it will be different in different countries. In Italy I am sure tha one of the existing unions will give you membership. What the can actually DO is another question.
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rogan



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 416
Location: at home, in France

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An international trade union exists already.

As far as worker protection is concerned in France - all legal employment offers sick pay, social protection and the right to go on strike. It is laid down in the Convention Collective.
Every employer must make the Convention Collective available to their employees. The relevent Convention Collective should be given in the contract.

If you don't have a contract you are working illegally

Any language school has to declare your employment and deduct National Insurance payments etc whether you have a temporary contract or a permanent contract. If you do not have these deductions from your salary then you are working illegally.

If you are working illegally, how can you complain that your employer does not respect the employment laws?

Within the State Education system most 'foreign' language teachers are either 'vacataires' or 'contractuel' - that is working on fixed term, temporary contracts. We all have similar working conditions to our 'titulaire' colleagues.
Several teaching unions are actively militating for our temporary and precarious situations to be brought up to the standards of our fully accredited, permanent colleagues.

Other countries within the EU have similar rules and regulations.
The basic test is simple - pay the standard deductions from your salary and you have employment protection.
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richard ame



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 319
Location: Republic of Turkey

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 12:28 pm    Post subject: teacher unions?? Reply with quote

A previous poster made the point that just making a contribution to the relevant body would solve the problem and I'm surprised this was not made clear at the start of this thread. Italy after all is a E.U country and I assume the orginal postee has a valid or at least U.K passport they do have labour laws over there don't they??I know they have them in Turkey but unions thats a diferent story. The various organizations that help teachers professional or otherwise are better placed to provide support on this issue ,but for most of us yours truly included we are basically on our own . But don't stop trying !!
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caroline italy



Joined: 09 Apr 2003
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2003 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before I get passed off as an illegal immigrant, living in a cardboard box in the local park, scuttling into the shadows when a police-car passes by, approaching people with a shifty expression on my face whilst offering them black-market English lessons, let me just clear up a couple of points. First, I live in Italy. Not only am I a EU member (being born in Scotland) but, being half-Italian, enjoy dual Italian-British nationality. I do pay taxes, dear Rogan, but in Italy there are temporary contracts which allow an employer to employ you as a "external collaborator/ consultant" - therefore if you are ill you do not get paid, if you want a day's or a week's holiday, you do not get paid, if lessons are cancelled you do not get paid. This is legal. Your employer pays a small amount towards your pension and that's all. Legally. And you can't do a damn thing about it since all private schools work in the same way. I work for a university too and the situation is identical.

So, to sum up, I think perhaps we can safely say that NOT all countries are the same. I've never heard of anyone in Italy get different treatment, although I would be DELIGHTED to be proved wrong.
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richard ame



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 319
Location: Republic of Turkey

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 7:11 am    Post subject: protection??? Reply with quote

Hi Caroline
I thought that things here were bad but even though you are a passport holder and are allowed to work where many are not you seem to have a raw deal there,ever thought of a change? The other man's grass and all that.
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caroline italy



Joined: 09 Apr 2003
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Richard,

I think you hit the nail on the head - probably that is the only real solution, although I can't for the life of me fathom why there's such a difference between EU countries (it sounds like France was a good deal better for instance). On other levels too, Italy isn't such a paradise - wages for example are terribly low here, and I'm not just talking about ESL teachers, but in general. I worked in marketing in a couple of companies for several years and got, by general standards, a pretty good wage, but it was more or less the same as the specialised workers on the factory floor were getting. Another thing that really annoys me is the impossibility of getting a foreign degree recognised - although, perhaps all countries around tthe world are refusing to recognise one anothers' academic titles to protect their internal job market.

So, as you say, head elsewhere? Well, believe me I would but my son was born here and I couldn't get him to budge for any reason. I am seriously thinking about getting away further afield each summer - to satisfy both my itchy feet and need to earn money over the summer period. Got any suggestions? Does everyone want CELTA (which I haven't ever got round to doing)?
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