Saturday, April 30, 2011

It’s about time I played a bit of catch-up and brought my happenings up to date for all you who actually bother to read this stuff I crank out. 

I’m sick to death of working for English teaching agencies here in Thailand since most of them try and cheat you as best they can, pay you late, or offer you minimal salaries while they are making money from the schools hand-over-fist.  So, after working my last job for the lousy, corrupt, disorganized OLC agency in Songkhla, I swore I’d never contract with another agency again unless I absolutely had to do it as a last ditch type of thing. 

A considerable time before my last week working at Songsaeng Commercial School in Ban Thung Lung, I began looking at job offers here in the South of Thailand and found pretty slim pickings. 

It has been rumored for a long time, Filipino English teachers are being hired by many Thai schools here in the South, simply because they can be had cheaply. 

While Native English Speakers from the U.S., Canada, England, and Australia are getting minimum salaries of 28,000 baht to 40,000 baht depending on their experience, credentials, and where they are living, Filipinos are pulling in salaries from 6000 baht a month to 10,000 baht a month.  So, if money was a big issue with your school, who would you be looking to hire?

I decided to approach the school I was working for, Songsang Commercial School in Ban Thung Lung, and ask them if they might consider hiring me privately.  I already knew the school was fed up with OLC teaching agency, so I banked on my chances since I have lived here in this area, near the school, for better than six years. 

About a week before my last working day at Songsaeng, I was told the school was interested in hiring me.  I was excited, but I’ve lived in Thailand long enough to know better than to begin putting all my eggs in one basket.  So, I continued to send my resume out to other schools who were hiring foreigners out-right.  Then, after my last working day, I was notified the school wanted to have a sit-down meeting with me. 

My appointed “foreigner representative,” Jahrut Mahjanwat, who goes by the nickname “Juliet,” was present at this meeting…and as things go, we never got to meet with the big boss, the school manager, Arunrat Rattanaphumi.  She was just too busy.  So, we met with Juliet’s immediate boss…a woman whose name always escapes me, but whom I’ve nicknamed “Frowny Face,” since she almost never smiles. 

The meeting lasted about twenty minutes.  I kept things simple and bowed to the school’s fear of their hiring me and my disappearing somewhere along the line, placing them in a very difficult position.  Thai’s often want guarantees, never quite understanding that there are no guarantees in life.   

My current salary under the employment of OLC agency, had been 32,000 Thai baht, but I often got cheated out of the exact amount I was supposed to get paid.  So, I told the assistant manager I’d agree to work for one year at 30,000 baht with the understanding if things worked out well and the school wanted me to sign a contract for another year, my salary would be increased, along with other, extra bonuses.  You see, it's not Rocket Science...English teaching agencies like OLC, Stairway English, Teacha agency, and others, get better than 100,000 baht a month for providing Native English speakers as teachers to a particular school...with the extra guarantee they will handle all the paperwork (work permit, visa, etc...), which most schools don't want to deal with.  But, I pointed out to my new employers at Songsaeng Commercial School, the incredible savings they would incur if they were to hire a foreigner like myself, outright, rather than pay their money to an agency.

We shook hands on the agreement and I left.  Six days later I was called at home to come to the school and sign my contract. 

I live very, very close to the school.  I travel by my motorcycle and it takes me on average, only five to seven minutes to get to or from the school.  It’s very convenient, so I was very excited about being hired outright by this school, which is a well-known school in the area, of which I am a very well-known foreign teacher, having taught English in this village for over six years. 

I arrived at the school and walked into the main office.  Juliet was already there and ushered me to sit down.  She presented me with a one-page contract that was simple and concise, but bothered me in its simplicity.  I would much rather sign a contract that is a three-pager and covers many issues, than a one page contract which only addresses the start date and the salary.  

Ah, the salary.   

I quickly scanned the contract, which was in both English and Thai, and noticed the stated salary was 34,000 baht, not 30,000, the amount we had originally agreed upon in our singular meeting six days ago.   

But, I ask you…what would you do?  You’re expecting a monthly salary quote of 30,000 baht a month but you see a quote on the employment contract of 34,000 baht? 

Actually, in real life, I began to address this, saying...

“Uh…the amount…we said…uh, oh…never mind…Mai pen rai (no big deal).  A little voice in my American capitalist brain said, “Are you fucking nuts?  Shut the hell up!”   

The start date on the employment contract was as I figured…May 1st, 2011.  All was well in employment land…I signed the contract, copies were made and I left sailing on euphoria. 

I ran right to the packy and bought three beer Chang’s to celebrate…Beer Chang - - - 6.4% on the Richter scale. 

But even as I drove my bike to the store, I felt that typical uneasy feeling, that doubt...which I promptly ushered away.  Life was good…don’t fucking ruin it Jim. 

The next two months were a mish-mash of utter hell.  I did my research about what the requirements for the Teachers Council of Thailand, the Songkhla labor office and the Royal Thai Consulate in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia were, paperwork-wise, and passed on my newly gleaned information to Juliet, whom I was beginning to understand, as beautiful as she was…she was also a stupid, ignorant, bull-headed Thai woman who didn’t listen to anything except her own verbose bullshit.   

I had cautioned her previously, telling her the massive amount of wasted time and money Patong Wittaya School, where I'd worked previously on a private basis, had incurred from not listening to me about the same process, but naturally…Thai’s just don’t listen to foreigners.  So, we went through two months of wasted time and money, which...luckily for me was at the cost to the school....not me. 

Once we finally got to the labor office with the correct paperwork after Juliet drug her heels for weeks (mainly because she didn’t understand what to do and of course wouldn’t listen to me), I had possession of the coveted WP-3 form, which I gathered, along with the paperwork Songsaeng School was supposed to provide (again, after weeks of prodding and probing Juliet) and took to the Royal Thai Consulate in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, which is always a rather expensive endeavor. 

I returned to Thailand several thousand baht poorer, but with my coveted 90-day Non-immigrant B visa.  Then, to make a terribly long story short, Juliet proceeded to put off other things until the last minute, forcing the labor office to require that we re-submit our paperwork again…Which brings us to the present.  

We’ve now been to the labor office with all the same, repetitive paperwork due to Juliet’s screw-up and delay, and we’re awaiting confirmation for my work permit, which should be issued by the beginning of next week…the 2nd of May, 2011. 

That’s the story up to now…BUT!  Stay tuned for the real shocker, which happened yesterday, Friday – April 29, 2011. 



Web Analytics