x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Emirati teachers threaten to resign over new pay scale

Public school teachers are disappointed by the new pay structure that went into effect this week, with some saying they have been misled.

ABU DHABI // Emirati public school teachers say they are planning to resign over pay and their treatment by the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

Teachers are upset because of a new pay-scale scheme for Emiratis and allege they have been misled.

“They called this an increase and a way to encourage nationals to be teachers, but I say that this is a new system to push away and deter national teachers,” said Mariam Al Kaabi, a teacher at Al Ain’s Umm Kalthoum High School for 18 years.

“The new salaries are not an increase. They just included our housing in the salary.”

Adec’s new pay structure went into effect this week and was retroactive to September last year.

It was intended “to attract more Emiratis into the teaching field, and is competitive in that it honours qualified staff that hold an advanced certificate and possess excellent performance skills.

“In addition, the new pay scale encourages cooperation and effective participation in the educational process and helps develop teaching methodologies.”

Ms Al Kaabi disputed that experienced teachers were better paid than new recruits.

“I used to get Dh24,000. Now I’m getting Dh34,000, but because they included housing and [President] Sheikh Khalifa’s grant, which should not be included in our salaries in the first place,” she said.

“We are overworked and all have medical conditions from the hours of teaching. We are now asked to be ‘complete teachers’, which means we have to deal with parents, be guidance counsellors, arrange activities, be mothers and a million other things. This is impossible.”

Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, director general of Adec, said on radio that teachers’ grievances could be lodged online.

“I have a letter with the signatures of 28 teachers which we submitted to Mohammed Al Dhaheri, Adec’s executive director of school operations,” Ms Al Kaabi said.

“If this goes on then we and many more will resign. We love our country and have served it for years. I am sure that our leaders will not allow this unfair treatment to their citizens to continue.”

Dr Al Khaili said teachers were unclear on the new structure and should check Adec’s web portal.

But Ms Al Kaabi disputed that. “We are educated teachers and fully understand the pay structure.”

Khalid Al Kithiri, a teacher at Al Ain’s Al Adel School, said: “We are broken and depressed and you can’t give back when you are working under such conditions.

“I live in a rental house after the new pay structure. I have no money left at the end of the month and am struggling to pay my children’s school fees.

“Every teacher I know has gone to the job fair and is looking for another job. If you find a single teacher who says they are satisfied then I will give in my resignation now.”

An Abu Dhabi teacher with six years’ experience and a bachelor’s degree said she had benefited from the pay structure.

“It’s teachers like me that don’t have to pay for housing that have benefited,” she said. “I live in my parents’ house so I don’t have housing to pay. Most teachers have to pay rent which is why the new pay structure does not help them.”

She said Adec made teachers think there would be an actual increase and instead combined the housing allowance with the salary.

“Teachers with lesser degrees get paid more. Experience doesn’t equate to qualification,” she said. “I truly respect people with experience but my degree is higher. If I knew this then I wouldn’t have continued my education.”

Adec officials did not respond to requests for comment.

salnuwais@thenational.ae