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South of Spain, bullying at work ?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by volvere, Oct 17, 2017.

  1. nollaig

    nollaig New commenter

    That just about sums things up here Lunarita but the owners still can break labour law and knowing that time is on their side and the worst that can happen is that they have to pay off the guiris and that is an end to it..
  2. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    The IB markets itself as the panacea for the all ills of Life, the Universe and Everything and I agree that it can be transformational if the values really are practised throughout the school community. That happy state doesn't happen by magic and I much prefer an honest Cambridge curriculum school to one that merely pays lip-service. I've struggled with crack-fuelled DP 'students' who argued that I should be happy with their various misdemeanours because tolerance is an IB value.

    I taught IBDP for ten years and introduced it into two new schools so I am not blind to either its strengths or its weaknesses, the 'half a mile broad, half an inch deep' approach to English (my subject) being one of the latter. I sometimes longed for the rigour of the old JMB A Level. I loved teaching ToK, while remaining profoundly sceptical of its philosophical basis.

    Don't believe everything you hear, even from Geneva.
    makhnovite likes this.
  3. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Arrived in Spain on a two-year contract. Twelve years now and still ticking. Grumbles about owners and management? ¡Claro que sí! (Ummm, that's a 'yes'.)

    But then the up-side... Great children. Such spark and (what the Spanish call) 'ganas' - we'd probably say 'up-for-it'.
    Climate? 'Nuff said. It was scratching 30 degrees over the weekend - yes, it's October. Number of my tennis matches cancelled due to weather last year? (I play all 12 months.) One. Annual cost of unlimited use of courts at local University, including entry to their league - €100.
    Food? Don't get me started on paella, with oodles of socarret (that's the oily rice that's slightly burned and stuck to the bottom of the pan). How did I ever live without it? Great tasting coffee in a bar in the shade? €1.20. Caña? (Small glass of beer.) The same. Fish and seafood? Name it. Tapas? Get away!
    Entertainment? The amount of free stuff provided by local fiestas is impressive. Most mid-sized towns have municipal bands which play (for free) in the bandstands in local parks throughout the spring, summer and autumn. Football? Season ticket at my nearest club (Villarreal) from €160 including Liga, Cup, and group stage of the Europa League. (It's €90 if you missed less than 4 matches the previous year.) Want to watch Real Mardrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid? As long as they're not playing each other, just book it on the internet. Tennis? Madrid Masters? Haven't missed a year since we arrived; in fact I've now been more times than I was ever able to get tickets for Wimbledon.
    Quality of life? I spend more time outdoors, 12 months of the year - on my bike, walking in the hills or by the sea, enjoying the café culture (no, not *$$) - than I ever did in the UK. The streets of most small towns are populated well past darkness by all ages. We bought a 3 bed, 2 bath flat with terraza and underground parking - 3 km from a beautiful (non-Costa) beach - for €60,000, two years ago.
    I've also learned enough Spanish to understand what they're doing to me at the (excellent) health service (free at the point of delivery). Having said that, I still opt to go to the cinema in versión original, now available in even quite small towns.

    Yes, some people have bad experiences in Spain, no doubt - but count me among the many who don't.

    And in reply to volvere? If you love Spain - change school. If you don't - then get on the plane. ¡Mucha suerte!
    Teachallover and miketribe like this.
  4. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    I share your enthusiasm for much of this (though, gracias a Dios, the football watching's not compulsory). I'm puzzled by 'non Costa' beach unless you mean a sandy lake shore.
  5. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Sorry, just my shorthand for 'non capital-C costa' (i.e. with FEB and stag-weekends included). Being in Spain, you'll be amongst the few who will have heard of it, I'm on the Azahar. (But don't tell anyone else.)

    And, no, the football isn't compulsory. But the paella should be.
  6. miketribe

    miketribe Occasional commenter

    This is not really true. I would be entitled to so much compensation that sacking me would be prohibitively expensive. I would certainly fight it in court, and my trade union would pay all the legal costs of doing so. And the courts find in favour of the plaintiffs in more than 85% of labour law cases. It certainly IS true that if the employers are prepared to pay the full amount of compensation legally required, then there's nothing you can do except take your money and move on. But I think the same is true in most countries...

    The big drawback is that many teachers just don't have the financial resources to hang around waiting for the case to come to court and would also have to find and retain their own lawyers (although many labour lawyers work on a no-win-no-fee basis) and unscrupulous employers rely on this. Also, if you've only been at the school a couple of years, you won't get more than a few months pay as compensation...
    Teachallover likes this.
  7. gafleecey

    gafleecey New commenter

    My experience of Spain left me wishing I had never gone there, and determined never to return. The bullying and downright cruelty of the owner left me close to a breakdown. This, along with long hours, poor pay, badly behaved children and a property which devalued to the point of junk left me with no option but to leave the country for good.

    Although Mike talks about workers' rights, I did not benefit from these- the owner made it her business to slap down any attempts to ask for the law to be observed, and of course she and her cronies were 'enchufada' with the bank, the policia local and a whole pile of crooks. My humble attempts at taking the shady bunch to law were met with threats against my family.

    Unlike Jeremy, I am not a fan of the local fiestas. Like him, I was near the 'azahar' area. How anyone can like the ritual torture of bulls that goes on mystifies me. Not bull fighting; although seeing it on the telly in every bar was bloody nauseating. I am talking about running them through the streets, tying flaming material to their horns etc. In one small village inland of Valencia, we came across the truck the poor unfortunate creatures were being held in until they were let loose amongst the locals-it was a hot day, and they had been shut in there for hours before the 'fun' started. The appalling cruelty to animals also included hunting dogs being set onto our beloved pet. He didn't survive, despite the best actions of the vet. Our denuncia did nothing, and the guardia civil officer laughed in our faces. Apart from animal cruelty there is also the environmental disaster that is the unnecessary burning of stuff, the constant fireworks which are hell for roosting birds, and the filthy dog-**** covered streets. (The latter for me being a metaphor for the state of the school I worked in.)

    Since leaving Spain 10 years ago, we have travelled the world, and my advice to the OP is to do the same. Anywhere but Spain.
  8. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    There is clearly a LOT of negativity towards Spain on here that leads people to doubt the sanity of those who claim they're having a good time. However, I'm sure there are people enjoying it, and making enough money to live well.

    As for workers rights, no one bats an eyelid when someone says they're going to Saudi or Qatar and yet we strangely have an entire thread about how dangerous Spain is.
    Jeremyinspain and Teachallover like this.
  9. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    As for animal cruelty, you should really look at how the milk for your morning coffee is extracted. I'm not saying the Spanish attitude to bulls is OK, it isn't, but it's no worse than how we treat dairy animals everywhere else.
  10. makhnovite

    makhnovite Occasional commenter

    For Goodness sake guys can we get off this Spain bashing thing, their are good and bad schools in every country,

    Some of us remember long threads on here about several schools in Cairo who would lie to you at interview get you out their and then do none of the things they said they would do.

    I worked some years ago at a school in Malaysia, where the owner would come into school on the day the fees were due with a large bag for the cheques and the cash.

    The hippo's stories about the ME are legendary!

    And dumbells66 panacea of IB schools are best is no answer. I am at an IB World school of 20 years standing with results well above the world average, and went to a meeting the other day with our esteemed owner who banged on the table and screamed; 'get me more money, I want my money'! There are British Schools that run the IB and American schools that run the IB - accreditation is no guarantee of anything!

    There are just good schools, not so good schools and bad schools and we have to do our research and help our colleagues without prejudice, recognising that our exerience is not the only valid experience.
  11. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    More than ten years ago, Catalunya banned violence in the corrida. The toreros had to show their skill without harming the bulls. The bulls cottoned on quickly and perforated some culos, so bullfighting was abolished.There has been a recent attempt by Madrid to overturn the ruling on 'cultural' grounds but Catalunya stands firm. Whatever happens, I am on the side of the bull and so is my (Spanish) best mate. The blood-and-sand cult is deeply disgusting.

    I'm really sorry about gafleecy's dog. I love my two and would shed blood to protect them. Both the future Mrs M and her dog were mauled by a notoriously dangerous brute and the cops did nothing about it. That was in the UK.

    A propros of Makhnovite's experience: The owner of our school in Johor, a great devotee of IB values, used to pocket not only all the fees but also the staff PAYE contributions. He'd then reimburse the tax office by stealing the teachers' final salary. He didn't get his thieving mitts on ours.
    Jeremyinspain likes this.
  12. expat2001

    expat2001 New commenter

    I fully sympathize with the OP's situation. I was in Spain for many years and finally plucked up the courage and the inclination to move elsewhere. I miss the country but not the working conditions. When you have been in one place for so long it is not always easy to jump on a plane and go to a new country - particularly if you have local financial and family commitments.
    Jeremyinspain and Teachallover like this.
  13. volvere

    volvere New commenter

    My intention was not to have a go at Spain Makhnovite rather than to highlight and to share our experience of how things can change quickly at a school which had been a stable and great environment to work in for many years. The vast majority of the staff at the saintly school have worked here a long time with many having bought property in the area and so the problem is not with Spain itself but with the way schools which are run as a business can get things so horribly wrong and behave in such an arrogant and self-destructive way.

    In fact some of the most depraved bullying behaviour is exemplified by so called managers and consultants who finding themselves unemployed on the international circuit resort to abandoning any moral position they may once have had with regards to education and sign up to carry out the owners dirty work. One´s got to make a living after all. That it is at the expense of staff much more professional and dedicated than they could ever be is not a point they would dwell on for long.

    Miketribe some of these staff sacked have been at the school for more than 15 years. They had great relationships with students and parents and consistently achieved amongst the highest grades. Some of them have hired lawyers and have dates set for their hearings. As you say they will probably win what they are entitled to under law which will be a financial quantity much greater than what they would be awarded in many other countries. In fact some are looking for reinstatement which there is a chance will happen as the cases are linked to the fact that they were involved in setting up a school union at the time they were sacked.

    The original post was really to elicit responses from others who may have been in similar positions either in Spain or anywhere else and to unearth any insights as to why owners (and their british acolytes) would act in such an seemingly arbitrary and self-destructive manner.
    Jeremyinspain and Teachallover like this.
  14. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    i truly sympathise with you and the situation you are in, and i really hope you get out of it as soon as possible. from my own personal experience i have never known of anything to go on like this on the wider international circuit, at least not at the same scale. i know of individuals or couples being sacked or released from contracts due to incompetence, inappropriate behaviour, or just not being up to the job etc. but to have pretty much the whole staff removed is not common at all. the only other cases i have heard of this happening before was, sad to say.... Spain.

    best of luck, and i hope it all gets sorted soon.
  15. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    I only take bull's milk in my coffee. They love having it extracted.
  16. critcn2

    critcn2 New commenter

  17. miketribe

    miketribe Occasional commenter

  18. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    Agree entirely with your comments about bull fighting and 'running'. Also the dog **** issue. Pleased to see that both are now under more scrutiny: the anti-traurino movement is growing in strength, especially amongst the younger generation, while the 'pick-it-up' campaigns and fines are reminding me of my childhood in the UK.
    One other issue which Spain has been 'late-to-the-party' over is the smoking in public places one. When we arrived here (2006) it was shocking to see. But since (I think it was 2011) they have joined in the reform movement.
    Yes, Spain has problems, lots of people have bad experiences. My point was that it's not true for everybody.
    As for the 'Anywhere but Spain' comment, I'll give credit that tongue was firmly in cheek.
    Un saludo.
  19. MuffinMK

    MuffinMK New commenter

    Lol I agree, run for the hills and forget how much money you have lost in the process! You will make it back again some where better!
  20. gafleecey

    gafleecey New commenter

    I always enjoy your positive comments, Jeremy.
    I went to Spain with the best of intentions, learned Spanish and tried to live my best life. However, the working conditions I found there were awful.
    Whilst I concede that 'anywhere' might be a bit of a sweeping statement, as I am not inclined to work in Qatar or Saudi, for example, I do genuinely think that Spain is bloody awful.
    Since leaving Spain, I have never had a month where I wasn't able to save what was my actual net monthly salary in Spain.
    dumbbells66 likes this.

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