• About time this happend


    Open letter to Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London, Will Norman, Cycling
    and Walking Commissioner and all stakeholders.

    Dear Stakeholder,

    Re. Formation of Cycle Instructors Branch of IWGB trade union –
    sustainable cycle training for a sustainable city

    I am writing to you regarding cycle training provision in London in my
    capacity as chair of the trade IWGB Cycle Instructors Branch and
    because of your roles in the provision and funding of cycle training
    in London.

    Due to long term pressures resulting in an untenable situation, the
    cycling instructor workforce has now unionised. The issues we face
    are summarised as follows:

    Wages have not risen in ten years, representing a very significant
    loss of earnings

    Duties and responsibilities have increased without any additional paid
    time granted

    Work allocation has become increasingly disjointed and unpredictable
    and cancellation policies can mean whole weeks of work cancelled at 48
    hours notice

    The required training, insurance and documentation has become more

    Safety is compromised as instructor-client ratios are stretched and,
    increasingly, provisionally qualified instructors are asked to carry
    out tasks for which they are not qualified, including the risk
    assessment and risk management of children in on-road training drills

    The recent review of the Bikeability Scheme has meant the
    qualification instructors have studied for and paid is suddenly no
    longer valid, requiring yet more financial outlay and time

    The growth of cycling is vital to the future of London and to the
    success of you, the Mayor, in meeting your own targets and
    responsibilities, as well as for those responsibilities of local

    Cycling instructors are a vital part of the following:

    Vision Zero, the mission to reduce road deaths and serious injuries to
    zero by raising awareness of bus and HGV drivers to vulnerable road
    users (currently over 100 per year)

    FORS accreditation for HGV and fleet operators

    Tackling rising obesity amongst the young

    Tackling street-level pollution, in particular school-run related

    Tackling chronic traffic congestion

    Tackling climate change

    In addition to these, cycle instructors should also be playing a role
    in supporting public health initiatives for long term health
    conditions and mental health support but there is currently a lack of
    joined-up funding and policy making.

    As a union of workers in the so-called “gig-economy”, we recognise
    that many of the companies operating in the sector are small-scale.
    Often, they are charitable or social enterprises operating in a
    quasi-corporate setting. Furthermore, we recognise that throughout the
    industry - from the policy units, the department of transport, local
    government, the bikeability trust and the larger provider companies –
    almost everyone involved is well intentioned and motivated by a love
    of cycling and a knowledge of its power.

    Cycling instructors are very motivated; we love our job and we
    understand its value.

    However, no longer can the largesse of the instructor workforce be
    taken for granted. . We will not tolerate providers winning contracts
    by cutting instructor rates. We will not subsidise the provider
    companies by picking up the bill for mandatory training. We will not
    allow safety and standards to fall because of cost-cutting. As a
    union, we stand ready to be productive partners working together with
    all parts of the industry and government to make the service fit for
    the challenges we face.

    Every day, parents and learners from all communities in this city are
    entrusting cycling instructors with the safety of their children and
    of themselves in some of the most challenging road-scenarios in
    Europe. We are determined that those cycling instructors should be
    properly paid, properly skilled and given the time and resources to do
    their job.

    The IWGB Cycle Instructors Branch is demanding:

    Instructor pay rates are protected from the contract tendering process

    Mandatory training and the time spent on training be paid for by the

    The cost of re-certification required because of the review of
    Bikeability Scheme be paid for by TfL, The Bikeability Trust and The
    Department of Transport or the provider companies

    Recognition of worker status and the accompanying benefits including
    accrued holiday pay, pension and other rights

    Paid time for all tasks essential to the role, including admin and
    risk assessments

    Improved pay and conditions recognising 10 years of declining pay

    A renewed commitment to safety and the removal of instructor ratios as
    a factor in the contract tendering process

    A commitment to develop the role of cycle instructors to include
    provision in health and social care sector and a road-map to a funding

    Representation on the board of The Bikeability Trust and other
    relevant settings

    A stakeholder voice in the development and review of transport
    developments across London

    The IWGB Cycle Instructors Branch is hereby announcing our intention
    to be a productive and positive partner and we extend an invitation to
    you, Sadiq Khan, as the Mayor of London, and Will Norman as Cycling
    and Walking Commissioner, to meet with us to discuss the challenges
    the sector faces and potential solutions. Also, we extend an
    invitation to all parties to engage directly with the union, so that
    we can make both London, and cycle training, more sustainable.

    On behalf of our members, I look forward to working with you.

    Yours sincerely,

    Michael McSherry

    Chair, IWGB Cycle Instructors Branch

  • Nice!

  • Indeed.

    CTUK's demise was largely due to its instructor 'burden' in that as a worker's cooperative it paid its instructors well, offered proper contracts, holiday and sick pay and 3 CPD training days and mentoring support.

    All this should be standard for all companies though some more recent companies felt offering gig economy condition was the way to win tenders, especially when borough and TfL tenders weighted Price of delivery quality.

    TfL could influence this by ensuring the quality weighting is high and CPD/QA requirements were built into the tender

  • I'm told the cakes at the meetings are great.

  • How many companies are still operating in London at the moment? Is it only Cycle Confident and Bikeworks?

  • Cycle Experience/TTC, Bikeworks, Cycle Confident, Cycle Instructor, British Cycling, The Bike Project, Wheels for Wellbeing, London Bike Hub. Also a number of councils and others like Sustrans, LCC and others that use instructors.

    With new contracts for delivery with councils being tendered and due to be decided some don't want a repeat of Bikeworks move into Tower Hamlets and instantly cutting the pay of all those working from £18/hr to £16/hr along with aggressive gig economy working conditions and tactics.

    I met someone in the week that was NSIP so was told they would get a lower rate of pay £70/day to deliver bikeability, historically this payment was worked out as being for delivery of 4hrs training with 2 groups between 9am-3:30pm and amounted to £15/hr+£10 for the extra time setting up and that would repeat for 4 days so each kid had 8hrs training. In more recent times the provider has juggled the times organising with the school to move breaks so they deliver training nonstop all day for 3 days and teach 3 groups, it's so broken that on paper they deliver training from 8:30am one of the days to meet the hour requirements set by bikeability and taking kids out for 2 sessions of a course intended to be spread across an extra day makes it harder to deliver. Checking bikes before and packing away after mean if all goes as planned they now work 8:30am-4pm with a 30min break that's often inturupted or worked as they need to talk with teachers and such to make the courses fit. When you do the math £70/day for 8hrs works out to be £8.75/hr and as they are then "self employed" making employers contributions the wage they get is significantly lower than the national minimum wage.

    This stuff is all over the cycle training now. One provider I worked for did a copy+paste of old CTUK policy intended for actual employees who would get payment for the time they spent following the policy and just decided they want instructors to pour hours of work into following the policy for 0 pay, this was all to tick higher boxes on how they had done CPD/QA. How CPD/QA requirements will do anything but push training providers to further bludgeon the workforce to present themselves as better than the others in a violent bidding war, I've no idea.

  • Thanks for that full picture. I hadn't heard of Cycle Experience/TTC yet. It's worrying how employment standards are sliding. Good luck with the union.

  • That is a small corner of a much larger picture. I have an ongoing tribunal claim against Bikeworks(it predates my joining the union), if I didn't would be a huge rant here about my own experiences as an instructor and not just a couple of paragraphs of things others have experienced.

    I've joined to help others, I've experienced and seen enough to the point I can no longer brush it off as mistakes and accidents but very deliberate and disgusting workplace practices that are copied across all the training providers for profit. I'll do what I can to ensure it changes.

    I think the biggest fallout from this will be if a council decides to sue a training provider. I've seen similar before when a council contractor decided to use subcontractors and broke an agreement by doing so. If a provider has tendered and entered into a contract stating clearly that staff of that company would provide training then it comes out that they are using external contractors for training it could all get a bit crazy. Lots of councils are also making living wage pledges which the training providers can't prove they keep if instructors can subcontract.

  • Cycle Experience have held the contract for Wigan for several years.

  • TTC are based that way but Cycle Experience still work from offices based in Slough.

    Similar to how BikeRight are north and CycleConfident are London based.

  • Shame to hear it's gone this way. Again, good luck with the actions.

  • Companies holding contracts for places so far away definitely doesn't sound right.

  • Have you got a response from the letter?

  • Big organisations prefer to buy from big organisations Somewhere up the procurement chain will be someone covering his/her arse with piles (no pun intended) of beuraucratic waste paper that as time goes on, only larger companies are able to vomit up on demand. Bikeability now favours this environment and I predict that what we will see is a relentless progression to near monopolies. The signs are already there as mentioned above.

    Noticably the recent update to Bikeability went nowhere near pay and conditions which to me is as much a part of quality standards as everything else. Companies are of course independent but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be set decent standards for "their" instructors.

    There are still a few small companies who put their instructors front and centre of their business. They care about them. There are other companies who rely on an easy supply of instructors eager to pay for their own training, some of whom don't care about the money or don't even need it. One or two big companies will swallow up the little guys or simply syphon off their clients until they fold. What they've already done to Bikeability they are now doing to the Safe Urban Driving. Such a shame as it's the kids and customers who lose in the end.

    I am saddened by it all.

  • A few have but not anything big. I think they are all finger pointing at other providers thinking it doesn't apply to them and they just got included as it went to multiple providers.

  • Thanks for starting this thread @skydancer, the union is moving forwards slowly. Please support this campaing:


    SIgn and share to support us instructors, cheers

    More info on what the union is up to here:

  • I learnt something new today.
    There is a category of Worker called Limb (b) who have rights somewhere between Freelance and Employee.


    Interesting to see whether this catagory can apply to cycle trainers

  • HMRC/tax law recognises three types of employment status, self-employed, worker, and employed. Limb (b) Worker is the legal name for 'worker'. Assumed that was how CTUK viewed its instructors, when in operation. Anyway, yes it could work for instructors, however, not all instructors want worker status.

  • . Assumed that was how CTUK viewed its instructors

    CTUK instructors were 'employed' fully. BACS, Pension, sick and holiday pay. As a workers coop we called ourselves workers though.

    When CTUK offered these terms initially our mission was to professionalise the sector offering proper employment contracts.

    This was scuppered for the whole sector when other companies started gig economy freelance contracts to cut costs especially instructor development, training and mentoring costs to win contracts on lower costs to procurers.

    This led to CTUKs demise

  • CTUK as a non profit also ploughed back any surplace funds to develop new concepts in training such a creating the SUD scheme, and offered its expertise for free to develop the National Standard and other sector wide cycle training ideas.

    I suppose this is a critique of the capitalist approach over 3rd sector social impact ideology

  • I'm familiar with the sad demise of CTUK, a severe blow to the overall diversity of the industry, (not to mention the individuals directly impacted by the closure). However, I didn't realise all CTUK staff were employed.

    But getting back to your wondering if worker status could apply to cycle Instructors, the answer is, absolutely yes! Three years ago when some of us first met with IWGB, they were pretty adamant that worker status would apply to instructors. Not only that, they were pretty keen on going for it, through the courts. But there was a problem, about ⅔ of Instructors at that time wanted to be self-employed, or didn't want to take the likely hit to their hourly rate l, inevitable with worker status. The other ⅓ were a mixture in favour of worker/employed status. Ultimately, that's why we went down the association route rather than the union route. Academic because it came to nothing at that time.

    Personally, I think a better balance of all three employment status would be best for Instructors and the industry, but the question remains: what do instructors want now?

  • Absolutely agree with you and @skydancer here. I was trained by Gill at CTUK and such a shame about what happened. It’s sad to see CC take over everything, eating the smaller providers (I still work for cc though).

    And yes, we are all workers. Just not recognised as such. The apprehension some instructors had in the past were misguided. You get to keep all the ’perks’ of self employment as pointed out in the thersa link above. It’s a straight 13% pay rise as you’ll get pro rata holiday, pension contribution and a few other things. But you’re still as flexible as you are now. No change, accepting and declining jobs as you already do. It’s easy to understand why companies choose to label us this way. When we’re out delivering private 1-1s to our own clients getting paid cash or hypothetically approaching schools, delivering training and charging them directly, that’s self employment. What we do is we have been incorporated into someone’s business to do a job. Under their command. Flying their flag. We are workers and as a union one of our first asks was to be recognised as such. It was voted by members and it’s now being pursued by the reps, including legal challenge in an employment tribunal if (and it probably will) it comes to that. The union have done it before and has ongoing cases on this specifically:


    I would definitely recommend you to join. If you’re a part timer there’s a part time fee also.

    Any questions I’m happy to answer to the best of my abilities :)

  • Playing devils advocate, but will it still be a straight 13% pay rise once providers have slashed hourly rates to compensate for their new additional staffing costs. And what about all tthose instructors who are better off as self-employed, who have pensions from previous careers, where instructing is a second household income and a few days unpaid sick is neither hear nor there, and for who hourly rate is most important.

  • For most if not all they could be workers.


    Some might even be employees.


    Are you coming to the preliminary hearing once coronavirus says it can take place?

  • but the question remains: what do instructors want now?

    Most just want to be paid fairly and have decent(ish) conditions to work in. It ultimately doesn't take much for most instructors to be happy. The situation with coronavirus is going to exasperate everything as a workforce that could easily have been furloughed is going to be decimated by months of hardship. Who knows who will be left after and which issues will be the most prevalent.

    The question of employment status(and the protections it can afford) only really come up when someone has royally taken the piss. To different instructors this will mean different things but it's getting to the point enough are ticking enough boxes of ways training providers have taken the piss it's something the majority can see value in.

  • Post a reply
    • Bold
    • Italics
    • Link
    • Image
    • List
    • Quote
    • code
    • Preview

Cycle Trainers Unite: Formation of Cycle Instructors Branch of IWGB trade union

Posted by Avatar for skydancer @skydancer