At a quarter to ten this morning, the Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers, turned up at Clubclass English Language School where several of the teachers were already assembled and waiting to start the protest. By ten ‘o clock, everyone had turned up and armed with hope and good purpose, the teachers stood adamantly holding up placards and voicing their concerns as one.
It was a very hot day, but this did not stop these stalwart teachers from standing up for their fundamental rights. “Recognition, recognition, recognition!” they cried out in one united voice, knowing full well that their employer was in the building, watching and listening from behind one of the windows, without allowing himself to be seen.
A cry for stable working conditions, fair wages, respect and the right to being recognised as being affiliated to a union, rose at intervals. Keeping up that chant for too long in that heat would have been impossible, but short breaks ensured a new revived burst of energy coming out of these teachers who have had enough of being treated like children, unworthy of attention, and due no recognition.
A short burst of anger got them to chant, “Shame on you, shame on you!” repeatedly. They knew the employer was taking time to watch and listen, he seemed to have ample time for that but none to dedicate to his workers in face-to-face confrontation.
The press started showing up at half past ten, and filmed the protesters as they voiced their demands out loud, and made their voices heard on the media so that the general public could be made aware of the injustice they were being subjected to, and which many others in the sector were having to face.
Graham Sansone spoke to the press, letting everyone know how a constitutional right was being denied to these teachers, and how the arrogance of this school owner had now gone beyond tolerance level. In addition, the president of the UPE, also mentioned the plight of other teachers within the same sector: teachers who, on a daily basis, have to choose between having a roof over their heads and food on the table, families seeing no other option but to forgo their right to stay safe at home as they fight a severe illness so as to have at least one breadwinner securing a meal on the table for their children.
Students peered out of the windows and stood on balconies waving and cheering their teachers on! It gave the teachers a boost to see that they had the students on their side, and that they were supporting the strike. Some teachers went up to them and spoke to them, a truly emotional moment in which teachers, whose natural environment would normally be in a classroom with the students, felt the need to break away not over idleness or petty disputes, but to have their constitutional rights safeguarded, respected, granted.
The press then took some more footage as the teachers’ voices rose from tired, defeated listlessness, to an energetic, loud and angry response to the three fundamental questions which had brought them together on that day.
What do we want? – “Recognition!”
When do we want it? – “Now!”
Are we going to be silenced? – “No!”
The teachers repeated these questions and answers over and over again, louder and louder, for all to hear. Then it was time to disperse, and head back home.
Later in the afternoon, Graham had an in-studio interview with NET fm, where again the dire situation of Clubclass, and with it the whole sector, was discussed.
The first day is now over, and we just need to wait and see what tomorrow holds in store, but on thing holds true: these teachers will continue fighting for recognition, they want it now and nothing is going to back off in silent acquiescence.