IWGB Cycling Instructors Branch members demand changes to working conditions and pay
Cycling instructors formally unionised as a branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain trade union (IWGB) in November 2019. In October 2020 the branch formally expanded from covering just London to including members from the whole of England and Wales and now has members in towns and cities across the UK.
Members strongly believe that the balance of their employment situation has become too precarious and it is no longer sustainable, viable or fair for the current employment arrangements to persist.
Many cycling instructors have been particularly hard hit by events and decisions that unfolded during the course of 2020 and continue to unfold in 2021. Members were sent home from schools and effectively locked out of work from the 18th March 2020 onwards. Only the briefest respite in Autumn followed, before being shut out again until the 8th March 2021. Meanwhile, Safe Urban Driving courses have been postponed indefinitely.
Although as a union we lobbied both Transport for London and Bikeability Trust for an exception to be made for cycling instructors to be allowed to train key workers – and thereby contribute to reducing the COVID risk of those workers – Public Health England decided this was not appropriate. Furthermore, very few schools in London took up the opportunity for the specific cycle training which was allowed.
While many instructors were able to access SEISS grants, because of the many caveats and clauses in this scheme, some instructors missed out entirely or received only a fraction of their normal earnings. Almost no instructors in London were eligible for furlough, whilst all the office staff at the cycle training provider companies were indeed eligible and those companies benefited greatly from state largesse in that regard.
The consequence of these setbacks is that whatever financial resilience used to exist in the instructor workforce has now been all but wiped out.
As a union, we believe it is the final client, i.e. in our case the local authority, that has the duty of care to the workers, which is why it is to the local authorities rather than the provider company to which we are making our demands. This analysis of who is responsible for the workers in outsourced contracts, has led to campaign victories for IWGB in a range of settings from Universities to private member’s clubs, from foster care workers, to cleaners, to taxi drivers and more. The IWGB is well used to running effective and successful campaigns and has a track record of winning in the workplace and winning in the courts.
1. Local Authorities enter negotiations for trade union recognition with IWGB
2. Protection for instructor pay against short-notice cancellations, specifically, we demand 100% pay for assigned work cancelled within two weeks of the start date and 50% pay for assigned work cancelled within 4 weeks of the start date
3. Paid time to complete the essential admin elements of the job
4. An increase in pay, recognising 10 years of the inflationary cost of static pay
Demands 1 and 2 are cost neutral for the local authority. Islington Council uses the cancellation policy we are demanding and has had just one school cancellation in seven years. Demand 3 is simply stating that, if it is part of the job, it should be part of the paid time – we should not be working for free. Islington and Camden councils pay for admin time. Demand 4 is essential to put the cycling instructor workforce back on a sustainable and viable footing, so that together with the councils, we can play our part in helping to improve the health, economy, environment and traffic of our communities.
On Monday 15h March 2021, we wrote to Haringey and Enfield council outlining our demands and giving a deadline of Friday 26th March to respond. If we have not had a response by the deadline we will start campaigning.
Because of the pan-London Framework Agreement, an out-sourcing contract negotiated by Haringey and Enfield and used by many boroughs across London, this campaign has the potential to directly benefit instructors throughout London. It will also set a precedent for all other authorities in the UK.
The IWGB is well used to running effective and successful campaigns and has a track record of winning in the workplace and winning in the courts.
If you are an instructor, join the branch today, and get involved in our campaign. We have a number of working groups who need your help! Join us - IWGB and follow the social media links below.
If you are an officer or councillor from a local authority, or you work at or own a provider company, and want to positively engage with IWGB cycling instructors branch, then email the branch chair or secretary [email protected] [email protected]
If you are from a political party, lobby group or if you are an individual who supports the aims of the branch and would like to support the campaign, email [email protected] and follow the social media links below.
If you are a a journalist and want to know more about how the precarious nature of the work and the legacy of Covid impacts on the lives of members, then contact [email protected] and follow the social media links below.
If you think the branch should be campaigning in your local authority next, get in touch to discuss how to prepare for a campaign, and join in with the current campaign so we can learn together and share experiences.
Follow us Twitter at @IWGB_CIB.