A large number of employees who currently work at a number of English language schools locally, and who are also Members of the Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers, have reported that they still have not received any payment for hours worked in the month of March. Despite having contacted their employers to clarify the situation, there has been no indication to date as to when they would actually be receiving any money.
Some schools even attempted to coerce their teachers to teach online even though they still have not been paid. The teachers were threatened with a refusal to apply for the government COVID Wage supplement on their behalf, should they not comply with the employers’ demands and furthermore no guarantee of payment for the hours they were being forced to teach was offered at any point in time. The union would also like to notify these employers that the alleged threatening of employees with the COVID wage supplement is highly unethical.
The Union of Professional Educators wants to point out that these schools are in breach of Chapter 452 of the Employment and Industrial Relations Act in which, clause 22 stipulates that – “Every employer shall pay or cause to be paid wages to his employees at regular intervals which shall not exceed four weeks in arrears.”
The union invites any employer, in breach of this clause, to regulate the situation as soon as possible. When an employer fails to pay employees their due wages, officers of the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations are obliged to take the necessary steps to investigate the circumstances. If the officers then deem that the law has been breached, the employer concerned will be informed and the Department will follow the issue accordingly. Should the employer persist in breaching the law, criminal proceedings against the employer may be initiated before the Court of Magistrates as a Court of Criminal Judicature.
The union will be taking action against one particular school, to start off with, and would like to make it clear that if any school unfairly dismisses its employees due to the above action being taken, the union will not hesitate to refer the issue to the Industrial Tribunal. The UPE is optimistic that schools will honour their obligations as employers. However, if no sign of action is brought to evidence within the next few hours, the union will be taking action against other schools as well.