August 9, 2008

SABIS Threats and Intimidation, Round One

Posted in SABIS/Choueifat tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:01 am by stephshimkooo

*please refer to the previous entry for background information.

Sunday came and went, and none of us had gotten on the bus to Al Khazna. Nothing was said, and everything went on normally. Business as usual until the following week. The SABIS executive team, comprised of the AQC, the RAQC, the woman who had been helping from Choueifat Ruwais, the Project Manager, and one of the Heads of SABIS (regular SABIS and PPP), came around to the schools to discuss the possibility of re-signing for the next year.

M was spoken to individually. They were speaking in voices loud enough for us to hear from out in the hallway, although we could not understand what they were saying. They spoke for what seemed like a long time, and in tones too aggressive to be taken as positive. After M came out, they spoke to another teacher in the hallway, and then told C and I to come in together.

The meeting started off in a cordial enough manner. They mostly talked to C, who was strong and held her ground through all the attempts to show her that she must go to the other school. She was polite but firm, expressed her dissatisfaction with the whole business especially after being left out on a limb with no support for two months, and her dissatisfaction with some of the untruths and omissions we had be subject to during the period of our employment thus far. She expressed particular dissatisfaction with being an English teacher when she was hired to teach Maths. After some degrading banter about her qualifications “Really? Maths? So you can teach like, calculus and stuff like that?” (as if it wasn’t printed on her degree). The SABIS executive team dismissed this as a whim and said that all SABIS HR know that native English speakers were only hired to teach English.

At some point they began to turn their attention to me, and I again explained that I was not willing or able to go because of my diabetes. This was greeted by one executive by head shaking and a mocking “Don’t try to hide behind that. I know people in your country (America) drive more than one hour to work everyday, so this is nothing special. Diabetics do this all the time.” I explained to her that the destination, not the drive, was the problem. This was when the real fun began for me.

I endured what I would call a “humiliating” interrogation regarding my diabetes. It started out simply enough with questions like how long I’d had diabetes, if I took insulin (which I do) and other questions about my lifestyle (all of which I told them during the interview process and wrote on my application BEFORE they hired me, so they already knew the answers to these questions). Then it got silly. I told them again that I was worried about emergency facilities due to the small but legitimate risk of hypoglycemia or diabetic keto-acidosis. They asked me questions implying that these conditions were something like epilepsy regarding “attacks” and such. They asked me when the last time I had one of these attacks was, and I replied that I hadn’t had one for 8 years, but that’s no indication that something can’t happen and there was no reason to throw caution to the wind. Another executive then asked if I had “any data or statistics about the probability of one of these ‘supposed’ attacks.” I replied that I didn’t. Whatever I answered, they always had a follow up question to try to disarm me.

We came back to the topic of going to Al Khazna. We were then told, in no uncertain terms, that two teachers had to go because ADEC had reverted back to the MOE curriculum and because our teaching loads had been reduced because of this. They lamented that the decision was not of their doing, it was ADEC’s, and that our positions had been eliminated in a meeting in October.  We asked them why we were still there if our jobs had been gone in October, and if our jobs ended in October, why had we continued to teach full schedules until February?  They made it out as if they had kept us out of the goodness of their hearts, but we again knew better.  They then told us again that we had to go to Al Khazna, and we refused. They told us that we had to choose between the three of us, C, M, and I, or they “would choose for us.” We said that we would not and would not be persuaded by threats.

One executive then told us that if we had any friends who were native speakers, they would give them the jobs in Al Khazna immediately based solely on our word. They said they would fly them out the next day and not even bother interviewing them. They would be hired based only on their geographic lottery winning of being a native English speaker. We told them that we knew no one who would come, especially on such short notice. She again reacted by smiling and shaking her head, saying “You’re English teachers. You must know other English teachers.” They then told us again that we had until Saturday night to choose or they would take our hours, give them to remaining teachers, and then fire us for breach of contract.

I asked if we would receive letters of no objection if that were the case so we could find other employment. They replied that we would not be entitled to one since we would be fired in that case. They finished by attempting to intimidate us by saying that they had checked it with their lawyers and that we had to go to any school they said. We knew better. We told them that we had had enough, and ended the meeting by getting up and leaving.

*The story gets better. I’ll write more soon.*


1 Comment »

  1. […] sabis ppp, sabis threats, uae, uae ministry of labour at 6:13 am by stephshimkooo Please refer to Round One for background […]

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