A longstanding cause of stress for me has been the various interpretations of “contract” that I’ve had to put up with in the work that I’ve done throughout Asia. But I’d have to say, some of the worst breaches I’ve seen or heard of, have come from the buxibans here in Taiwan.
In Oz, a contract can be made via a simple handshake or a nod of the head. We generally do our best to keep to the letter of the contract, and an excuse like “sorry, but I hadn’t planned for this little problem which resulted from to my ineptitude” doesn’t hold much credence or get much sympathy from the other party to the contract.
So, when Almas John wrote that we foreigners are too legalistic, he’s got a point, and we can use Sir Don’s reason of cultural differences to justify it. But when talking about something called “guaranteed hours”, then I think you’ve got to expect some sort of teacher backlash if a buxiban owner can’t keep to a simple agreement and offer regular hours to a teacher.
I’d guess that 90% of broken promises come down to the buxiban owner’s poor management skills, which is hardly the fault of the teacher. Let’s face it, most of the buxiban bosses don’t even have the capacity to run a roadside noodle cart, let alone a school… So if the boss stuffs up, and uses a pissweak excuse to cover the mistake (maybe this is a cultural thing, too), why shouldn’t a teacher be peeved?
In my opinion, the offer of guaranteed hours would help to get the most out of a teacher and keep him/her from looking for work at other places. The convenience of the arrangement should also keep the teacher happy. So if an agreement as simple as “minimum hours” can’t be kept, then I think you’d have to be living in a dreamworld to not expect a teacher to think about leaving.
Furthermore, if a deal on guaranteed hours has been broken, then what does it hold for the rest of the agreement that a teacher has with a buxiban? Should the teacher still be expected to keep to the letter of the contract? As far as I’m concerned, unless the boss is prepared to talk about the issue, and explain things in a compassionate and conciliatory way, then I wouldn’t even want to wipe my arse with that contract.
It’s definitely a two-edged sword, but I’d say the boss’ blade is a sharper.
The Big Babou