Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) are in dire straits and still waiting for government promised assistance, the Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the workers said.

EFL schools have had to contend with thousands of cancelled bookings due to the coronavirus pandemic and have clashed with the UPE previously, over allegations of bullying.

In a statement on Tuesday, the union said it was heart-broken at the e-mails it had been receiving in the past days, which showed that teachers in the EFL sector were living a reality of utter distress. 

One email in particular was from a teacher who lived in a household of four people - the teacher, her husband who was a cancer patient and two children.

In spite of being a vulnerable person, the husband had to go to work to provide for his family. The family feared it would soon be unable to meet the cost of bare necessities, and dreaded the possibility that the husband might get infected with a virus he might not be able to fight off.

The union said it was angered and discouraged at how individuals, who had seen poverty become a harsh reality, had been sidelined. 

It formally asked the government to speed up the assistance distribution process as much as possible, to ensure that jobs lost did not lead to homelessness, hunger or even loss of lives.

The union also asked the government to intervene regarding the payment of bills, requesting a pardon or a moratorium in these difficult times. There should be a moratorium on credit card repayments and people should be provided with the tools needed to be able to work remotely, such as internet connection, hardware and software, as a subsidy so that the money received through the grant could be invested in more basic needs.

The union also asked the government to review the payment status of those on zero-hour contracts working in the sector.

These people had been duped into believing that their part-time casual status would never have affected their standard of living and had been receiving a wage which would normally qualify as a full-time job prior to the onset of COVID-19. 

But what they were now receiving through the grant amounted to less than half of what they usually had in hand to support their families.

When it came to granting subsidies, the government opted to use a one-size-fits-all option, dismissing such people as part-timers and subjecting them to another injustice.

The union appealed to the government to act promptly saying the situation was “urgent and critical”, and could worsen to a point of no return.

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