Now that the dust has settled and that I am now in a safe position oncemore, I feel able to explain what has happened to me over the last few weeks.
So I quit my job. Left. Hit the road. Moved on.
I considered it imprudent to remain in my former employ for numerious reasons, and I scented this might happen some time ago; so I had to have a plan B. I will not publish what my plan B is, just yet, but in a few weeks time.
Anyway, here’s my account of what happened.
So in early November I got into a really bad situation through no fault of my own and was faced with having to get a new (legal) job. Unfortunately there were very few options available to me at the time, either to go with this one company or to go home. Simple as that.
Jilin Star International Education Institution
(四达国际教育) or chang chun si da .
As I posted before, they are legally allowed to hire foreigners and have about 30 ‘foreign’ teachers on their books.
The company has foreign managers to add an air of legitimacy for those teachers who are new to China.
Star Education has many other interests besides Foreign Teachers, it works with getting people into foreign universites – especially in New Zealand and Australia.
Don’t be fooled by the friendly foreign faces, the company is Chinese and run by Chinese people and so still operates in a very cut-throat screw you way.
Of course, they are very friendly and nice to you in person and on an individual basis i’m sure they are nice people. But as with many of my experinces here, when money (i.e salary) comes into the equation they become like a different animal, hiding behind the ‘companies interests’ .
Despite the name, this is a recruiting and farming out agency and has no school of it’s own. The company operates by placing foreign teachers into various (and mostly) government run schools; primary and middle schools that don’t have the capacity to get foreign teachers themselves.
The company makes money by getting foreigners to work for say 20 hours per week and paying the employee per the MINUTES you have in the classroom. So the company gets 150 yuan per class, and pays the teacher 62 yuan per hour. 5000 yuan/ 80 hours a month (20p/w) = 62 RMB.
So 20hours a week is more like 30hours when you factor in that most periods are 40-45minutes per class. Not to mention the amount of UNPAID travelling between classes at different locations – it soon adds up.
For example, you may have class from 8-9.30 and from 10-11.30 in the morning. Two classes, the whole morning gone – you will only get paid for 3 hours work, then you may (like me) have another two hours of class from 2-4 in the afternoon.
So come the end of the day you woke up before 7, and get home after 5 and you only get paid for 5 hours work. This makes you feel as if you are being cheated (And I am not the only one, many of the other teachers at Star also feel this way)
Remeber though that you work for the company, not the school, so you will have to work in different locations often more than one location each day. And don’t expect a weekend like the university teachers, 6 days a week is normal.
This is how the companies operate, and the lack of a regular schdule is a total KILLER on the Foreign teachers free time. You will also get phone calls asking you to work at very short notice; tomorrow, or this afternoon – and if you refuse – you’ll get another call from the boss – all very intimidating.
Essentailly you -the Foreign teacher- will be treated like a commodity, you basic rights will be infringed and it will make you very unhappy. Of course the company will not understand your plight, it’s not in their interest to support YOUR interests at the detriment of what they see as raw PROFIT.
For me that’s the crux of the arguement, Profit and greed on the part of the company. Screw the Foreigner, hire some newbee who doesn’t know, screw him, hire another etc etc etc. High staff turnover, Fast Buck – makes me sick!
So be aware!!!
However I knew this would probably happen before I signed the contract, though I never assumed it could be quite so bad. And I thought I could tough-it-out. I thought wrong.
I could just about put up with the above, but what did it for me was when they started to mess around with my salary. Not being paid my rent money was the catalyst for my leaving the company. Maybe I was looking for an excuse to leave, however It is imperative that I protect my own interests FIRST. Especially in China, as a foreign teacher- I cannot allowed myslef to be messed around oncemore.
I later learned that the reason for Star education wanting to not pay my rent money is that the company has no reserve funds, and so by depriving 30 Teachers of 800 yuan they can save 24000 yuan – that can be used to pay bills/salaries/bosses salaries etc…
Hearing this further reinforces my opinion that I made the right move.