14 fired schoolteachers seek Labor Office's help

RIMA AL-MUKHTAR | Arab News Staff

Published — Monday 5 November 2012

Last update 5 November 2012 6:57 am

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JEDDAH: Fourteen Saudi female teachers in Madinah were surprised to find they were fired following the Haj vacation on Saturday. The school management said they are no longer in need of them but the teachers are appealing to the Labor Office and the Human Resources Development Fund.
The teachers' struggle with the school started at the beginning of this school year, according to one of them who worked there for five years and chose to remain anonymous. “The school management asked all of the teachers to sign a new contract issued by the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund, so we read it and signed it,” she said. “On the same day, the manager asked us to sign another paper claiming it is an internal contract for the school and threatened to fire us if we didn’t sign and so we all did,” she added.
The teachers said the internal contract contradicted the one issued by the Human Resources Development Fund. “It states that all teachers should teach 25 classes instead of 20 classes a week. It also states that teachers working in this school are to give up their salaries for three months for insurance reasons,” she said. “She also made us sign papers that say that we agree to give up three months' salary for the summer vacation. Even though we told her we were ready to work during this vacation, she refused,” she added.
Arab News tried to contact the school officials for comment but they were unavailable.
The teachers asked for a copy of both contracts but the manager rejected their request.
At the end of the month, the manager asked the teachers to sign papers that said they have taken their monthly salary when they didn’t. “We saw a big envelop and we thought she was going to give us our salary in cash, but after we signed she told us that the whole salary is going to insurance,” said the teacher. “We agreed on the fact that the Human Resources Development Fund would pay us SR 2,500 and the school SR 3,100 and that the school would only take the SR 3,100 for insurance and the teachers would thus get to keep the SR 2,500 without having to give a receipt,” she added.
“The manager was greedy and wanted to take the whole salary and said she was deducting the salary from the weekends and school holidays which made us give the Human Resources Development Fund a call to complain,” she said.
The Human Resources Development Fund called the school and told the manager that teachers' monthly salaries should be credited to their bank accounts and not be paid in cash "so HRDF can trace us."
“After 15 days we received our salaries and on the same day she sent an SMS asking all of us to give back the money in cash. This shows that she wanted to convince the Human Resources Development Fund that she paid us our money, but at the end she asked to give it back,” said the teacher.
The next day, the teachers asked the manager for a receipt that shows the amount of money that goes for the school insurance or they will not give their salary. “She denied our request again. The secretary then asked for an urgent meeting on call but we refused to talk to her unless she came to meet with us face to face,” said the teacher. “The manager finally came and she started screaming and calling us names and it was horrible and she lost her temper. The next day when I came to the school the secretary informed me that I was fired by the manager,” she added.
The teacher went to the Governmental School Guidance office and filed a complaint and she also visited the Labor Office in Madinah. “All the teachers went to the Labor Office. We had a meeting with the school manager and the Labor Office where we gave all the documents we had against the school management but the manager never showed up which made an official from the Labor Office visit the school and there was no one there as well,” she said.
“The Governmental School Guidance office made the school manager sign a citation until we meet again with the Labor Office. This all happened before the Haj vacation and the next meeting was after the Eid,” she added.
Right after the Eid vacation, the teachers were surprised to find out the school fired them. “The fourteen teachers who were fired went to the Governmental School Guidance office again to complain but the school manager informed the Governmental School Guidance office that she doesn’t need any of us anymore and that she followed The Human Resources Development Fund section where it says that the school can let go of any teacher who worked less than 90 days,” she said. “All the teachers have worked in this school for years and no one was new so there is no need for the 90-day probation,” she added.
The teachers are meeting with the Labor office today for a final decision.

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