Half a paycheck, still no pension

by Mr Mike

Payday should be on the 5th of every month.  We accepted that we wouldn’t get it before our week off so thought the paychecks would be deposited the day of our return on January 6th.  Wrong.  Today is Friday and this whole week we’ve been working without pay, and have gotten zero answers about our pension accounts.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I called the National Pension office and confirmed that my account in fact has ₩0 in it.  So I’ve got that going for me.

A friendly letter with clearly stated advantages & disadvantages of diligent payment was drafted.  It outlined how employee morale has bottomed out highlighting the stress of not being paid, the revelation about our fraudulent pensions and the uncertainty of the future.  It further stated that the simple solution to avoid complications at the school was to adhere to our contractual payday.

I really wanted to have this translated and left on the boss’ desk but I was out voted.  Only myself and the author were willing to sign our names.  I guess it doesn’t bother me too much since I didn’t really think there would be any effect other than some angry Korean.  It was more of a symbolic olive branch to try and fix the problems while helping our CEO see the benefit to a good business practice aka paying his employees.

Its bad enough on a normal Monday morning but everyday past our payday it grows harder and harder to remain motivated to do any work and to come each in morning.  I look forward to leaving this job in a way I have never before experienced.  I chalk most of the trouble up to the language barrier and cultural differences.  If Mr. Bae spoke any English or we spoke Korean well enough to have a conversation perhaps he could convince us what he was doing made sense.  Well, no chances are it would make me hate him even more if I understood what he was saying.

As a result of the stress and uncertainty we have had some interesting developments.  This week there have been a handful of absences; they can largely be attributed to catching viruses like the devil I brought back from the Philippines but I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two were directly related to the lack of pay.  I know I’m planning on taking at least 1 ‘sick’ day next week to give myself a 3-day weekend for my birthday and am certain the remaining 7 weeks will include coworkers following suit.

The unfortunate side of a teacher calling in sick is that we are required to give up our prep periods to sub.  Today that backfired on one of our administrators.  Roughly 10 minutes before the class started (the teacher has been absent all day yet they waited until the last minute to ask) they approached a teacher with a prep this afternoon asking her to cover.  It got a little ugly when she refused; stating significant work (including a private school application) and the intent to visit the doctor since she had been sick.

As teachers we can’t understand why our principal doesn’t cover on these occasions.  Her main responsibility is to develop our curriculum (which she fails to do) and online shops or chats on her phone most of the day.  She deals with parents when the need arises but usually pawns that responsibility off to our coteachers who are on the phone most of the school day as a result.  Well, anyway a screaming match ensued in the hallway; it was exacerbated by both parties lack of pay and resulted in a “warning” letter which was mistranslated as a “call to immigration.”

When the director found out she sympathized with the teachers and realized it was more about the lack of pay and was more concerned about her prior conversation with the CEO.  He “was cocky and thinks he owns everyone.”  Wait, he owns us?  Woah.  Back up a minute.  Should we add slavery to this guy’s list?  He said that he is at liberty to fire whomever he wants at a whim but he certainly does not OWN us.  

For the last 4 months at this school I have had nothing but negative feelings toward my CEO and today sealed his fate.  Once I receive my final paycheck I will do everything in my power to keep him from hiring English teachers.  I will contact the ministry of labor and outline his issues, I’ll contact recruiting agencies to have this gentleman, wait no.  This asshole blacklisted.  He doesn’t deserve the privilege to call an English speaker his employee.  

It was mentioned that he is “holding our pay” as a punishment and that he only feels that we are owed money “if we recruit more students.”  Well, at least that’s how our new director interpreted his words.  Mr. Bae is scum.  Worse than scum; he has committed fraud with all of our pensions, fraud as an international school (although he corrected it by changing our name to “society), and continues to attempt to extort me for half of my airfare.  Let’s not forget that he views us as his slaves.

We realize that he still can fire us, although that will certainly cause a backlash that he isn’t prepared to handle with the students and could be the catalyst that shuts the place down.  We are walking on eggshells but with everything still brewing at our school a number of us left an hour early anyway.  We taught all of our classes but opted not to desk warm an extra hour without a paycheck.  Sometime after dinner I got a message from a coworker.

Half pay.  What does that mean?  Well it means I don’t need to dip into my savings for dinner but it feels like more of a slap in the face than anything.  He holds the power.  For 7 more weeks.  When the tides turn I hope he is brought to justice for fraud and extortion but more importantly I am excited to start my new job!  At an actual school, with students and parents that don’t have to be lied to.  With coworkers who are happy to be there.  A job where there is mutual respect between employer and employee.  I understand that may not be a common item in your profession but in any classroom respect is required.

Mr Mike

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[…] hogwon life continues to baffle us; Friday we were given slightly less than half pay(which was already 5 days late).  Monday I found out the Korean teachers got even less.  My […]


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