x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Adec says payments for teachers’ flights home are on the way

Hundreds of teachers in Abu Dhabi have been waiting for their flight allowances, which were not paid in June as expected.

ABU DHABI // Hundreds of Abu Dhabi Education Council teachers will receive their flight allowances after a two-week delay that resulted in disruptions to travel plans and caused some staff to go into debt.

Teachers were scheduled to receive their allowance for flights home with their June pay cheques but, as of Monday, none had. Many resorted to social media to vent their frustrations about the lack of communication from the council.

Dr Khaled Al Abri, manager of recruitment and staffing section at Adec, on Monday said: “The relevant department pays annual travel ticket allowances to employees and their dependents, but this is a time-consuming process as the department has to check resignations and end-of-term benefits before deciding and approving the numbers of employees that are eligible to receive travel ticket allowances.”

He said employees would receive allowances either on Monday or Tuesday.

While the news came as a relief to many, others remained unhappy.

“Don’t they know that flight allowances have to be paid,” a teacher asked. “Why not hire more people to do the job if they can’t finish it on time?”

Another teacher said: “We are held accountable for every minute of work we miss. Who will hold the council accountable for not giving our flight allowance on time as per our contract?”

The teacher argued that she should be compensated.

“Since they have wasted two weeks from my vacation then they should not make me start on [August] 24 and give us these two weeks.”

The academic year is scheduled to start on August 24 and end on July 10. Teachers receive flight allowances with their June salaries, but this year they received a note on June 25 from the council warning them the payment would be late.

“Dear colleagues, please be advised that the annual airfare allowance will not be part of the June salary. A separate payroll run will be done after payday. We thank you for your continual patience and support,” the note said.

“The biggest issue for the teachers is that summer vacation is already shortened, and by the delay in their flight allowance they cannot get the necessary vacation to reboot,” another teacher said.

As this has happened during Ramadan, some have found this behaviour to be un-Islamic. “In this, the holy month of Ramadan, how is one of the most prominent government divisions allowed to default on thousands of contracts with blatant impunity?” a teacher said before hearing the latest news. “Every day that passes is one less day that people have with their families, in their country. In the end, I expect Adec may pay the travel allowance, in their time without the least bit of concern for the delay’s effect on people.”

The hardest part, many teachers said, is that they love and respect their adopted country.

“We love the UAE and love our jobs here, but fair is fair. On one hand, there is this life and this community we care so very much about. On the other hand, the same people that have ‘invited’ us to this country are now failing us. This is a hurtful experience.”

The delay in flight allowances was not a one-off event, teachers said.

One said on social media that he did not receive his flight allowance last year until December.

“Last year there were some issues with not enough to cover flights or some people not getting enough for their family like promised,” a group of teachers said via email.

They blamed the council for being disorganised.

Upon hearing the news that Adec had said it would pay teachers presently, one teacher could not contain his excitement.

“I’m going home tonight. See you in August, UAE.”

salnuwais@thenational.ae