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Tricky situation at a newly opening School in China, HELP!
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Luobi



Joined: 21 Feb 2013
Posts: 5
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:16 am    Post subject: Tricky situation at a newly opening School in China, HELP! Reply with quote

Hi all, I'm an experienced and qualified Australian teacher who is new to China who accepted a position advertised by an Australian recruitment agency for an "International School" opening in a small town in China.

The agency seemed reputable online, the offer seemed great and offered high pay. The position involved teaching small groups of children while working with Chinese educators to generate unit plans and lesson plans of international school standard for the opening school.

However, a week into this and I'm beginning to worry about what I've gotten myself into for the following reasons:

1) I'm into my second month and the school is asking me to extend my tourist visa rather than sending me to HK to get a work visa. I'm told this is because small cities require more time to organise resident permits. This may be true but still has me worried

2) My first pay was late, supposedly because the accountant took an extended New Year holiday. However, when the accountant returned my pay seemed to be much less than I was expecting because of a supposed law that means salaries are greatly reduced if you don't work for exactly a full month. I asked a lawyer friend who said this law is no longer in effect. My lawyer friend and I went to the school together to discuss this, the head of the foreign department backed the accountant and started screaming comments such as "you get paid more than other teachers you should expect to be underpaid a bit sometimes, I'll see you fired for questioning me!". It didn't help that my lawyer friend started screaming, too. The head of the foreign department contacted a 2nd lawyer who backed my friend, the school than paid the correct amount. I kept calm but was I culturally insensitive in this situation?

3) School management keeps telling me that the head of the foreign department will quit soon, and that I should sign a contract with them to avoid being left without a visa. The head of the foreign department has said they that I should be careful of management because they want to to take my paper work and fire me. The recruitment agency in Australia says I should trust the head of the foreign department who they claim is reliable but is still becoming familiar with labour laws (she is also their business partner). However this is also the person that was happy to see me underpaid, who is struggling to provide me a work visa on time, threatens to fire me if I question her in the least, and who will leave me in a very difficult situation if she really does quit.

I'm new to China and not used to these sorts of office politics, the reputable recruitment agency, and high salary had me believing this school would be ok. Is this just a case of culture shock that is causing me to over worry and will eventually settle down? Or is it time to try to work out a strategy to get out of this position?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3205

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leave. Immediately.
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rogerwilco



Joined: 10 Jun 2010
Posts: 1159

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

johntpartee wrote:
Leave. Immediately.


+1
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LarssonCrew



Joined: 06 Jun 2009
Posts: 484

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed. Get out.

But another highlight about agents, they just care about the reference fee, don't care about your welfare or how you are getting on.

These things are normal in China, the management will find an excuse etc. to cheat you.

Having said that, some of my contracts have been straight through [i.e. uni paying for spring festival even though I didn't work] whereas some part time work pays per class.

When I went to Xi'an kid castle at the start of my time in China, they would take the salary, [something awful like 4800] divided it by how many classes it was for [say 24 a week, 96 a month] then times it by the amount of actual classes taught. Terrible.
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it'snotmyfault



Joined: 14 May 2012
Posts: 527

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait until payday....then leave immediately
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Javelin of Radiance



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
Posts: 1092
Location: The West

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you leave, then be sure to tell them why. You couldn't get the visa on time as earlier promised. I was paid late and less than I expected. And you don't like being questioned. If you don't tell them why they're just going to think someone else will fall for their act, which might happen anyway, but if you let on that we're not all that stupid they might actually try to change the way they do things.
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rogerwilco



Joined: 10 Jun 2010
Posts: 1159

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Javelin of Radiance wrote:
If you leave, then be sure to tell them why. You couldn't get the visa on time as earlier promised. I was paid late and less than I expected. And you don't like being questioned. If you don't tell them why they're just going to think someone else will fall for their act, which might be true, but if you let on that we're not all that stupid they might actually try to change the way they do things.


Probably better for him to do that in an email after he has left the school than for him to attempt that in person.
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it'snotmyfault



Joined: 14 May 2012
Posts: 527

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LarssonCrew wrote:
But another highlight about agents,


This situation could have been avoided by simply coming on here first and saying "hey guys what do you think about this job offer?"

Unless more people do that then the problem won't go away.
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choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3232
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:09 am    Post subject: Re: Tricky situation at a newly opening School in China, HEL Reply with quote

Luobi wrote:
....for an "International School" opening in a small town in China.......


i've read that a school must have been in existence for a certain amount
of time (2-3 years?) before it can apply for authorization to hire foreign
teachers.

Luobi wrote:
....because small cities require more time to organise resident permits.......


small cities cannot provide residence permits for holders of tourist visas.
you're missing the work visa. with a work visa, your school could simply
take you to the provincial capital (or nearby larger city) to apply for a
foreign expert certificate, which will be required to apply for your residence
permit.

oh, you don't have an FEC either?


so, you've been teaching for two months illegally? you have no legal
recourse. your lawyer cannot help you.

this is important.......keep your passport in your possession at all times.
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Lancy Bloom



Joined: 23 Nov 2012
Posts: 112
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My recent experience in EFL teaching is similar to that of the poster. I have never met the teacher who I was replacing. Heard of them but never had a meeting of passing of the torch. It was done in Taiwan when I was there and also in Korea. In China they want you out of there on a moments notice. They don't want you around when the new person arrives on a tourist visa. My last three jobs with and without z visas usually got rid of me before a major holiday like the spring festival. I found working in China lonely. Most of the new teachers keep to themselves to avoid being found out they know nothing about teaching English. The school wants poster boys and girls and has no idea about proper teaching credentials. Now it seems that a cameo appearance before a student recruitment drive is the new mode of operation.
I had one job a few years back where in the end they didn't honor the contract. I wasn't given airfare because they found out I was staying in China. I did what was recommended here and asked for a phone contact of a teacher working there. The person gave a good review but later I found out he had been fired. They held him hostage by threatening to not pay him his salary.
So the next time you watch a Chinese action movie look at the fifty people taking on the hero. Chinese identify with those fifty people and not Bruce Lee or Jacky Chan.
There is nothing you can do about the injustices because everyone is a friend and the police and school administrators often eat lunch together.
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Lancy Bloom



Joined: 23 Nov 2012
Posts: 112
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what ever happened to the passing of the torch for new teachers.
The buz word is foreigners are trouble makers for asking for their full salaries.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3205

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Wanna know what I hate? Getting a notification that there's a post on a topic I'm watching and it's total nonsense.
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Luobi



Joined: 21 Feb 2013
Posts: 5
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the advice, I've asked the school about the 2-3 year time period before being to able to hire foreign teachers. They've then driven me to a school in a larger nearby city with foreign teachers (who I wasn't given an opportunity to talk to) and have told me that this school will organise my Z visa Is this normal?

Also, I think the school is catching on to the fact I might be running soon (thanks for the advice on how to get out rogerwilco and Javelin of Radiance) they've hinted however that they will pursue legal action if I stay in China, and that the agent will pursue legal action if I return to Australia. Is this even possible? If I just move to another city without informing the school of my location what can they really do? My lawyer mate said technically they could try to find me and instigate legal action but the cost of that would out weigh the benefits. Does anyone know of cases where schools have instigated legal action for foreign teachers that have broken contracts?
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Luobi



Joined: 21 Feb 2013
Posts: 5
Location: China

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way this was how the school tried to scam me - Due to the date of my arrival I worked 18 days out of last month. Pay for this period was calculated by the school by dividing the total monthly salary by 30 to work out the pay for individual days. For example Y20000 % 30 (30 days in a month) = 666.7, 666.7 X 18 = 12000.6 . However the legal way to do this is 20000 % 22 (to exclude weekends) = 909.1, 990.1 X 18 = 16363.

Be aware of this when school try to calculate daily pay.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3205

PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Does anyone know of cases where schools have instigated legal action for foreign teachers that have broken contracts?


No. It won't happen.
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