21. Luke Preece, Nicola and Colm O’Mahony

In this interview we examine the disruptive role played by end of contract bonuses in TBI.

Why do language schools in Jakarta have end of contract bonuses?

Language schools in Jakarta have to pay $100 a month for each expat they employ plus considerable immigration agent fines, some of which find their way into the palms of officialdom. If a teacher disappears that will cause major headaches in terms of scheduling and the school may have lost several million rupiah in lost fees. Schools prefer to have people complete their contracts, unless they are truly terrible teachers. The incentive is supposed to encourage people to stick it out.

What happened with Colm O’Mahoney (also known by his internet aliases of Def Jam and Napolean Complex)?

He got a better-paying job elsewhere. He approached me and asked if he would get his end of contract bonus. I told him that he wouldn’t as he was breaking his contract.

Its a no-brainer really, isn’t it?

Nothing is ever simple in TBI. Being a manager or Actel is a bit of a nightmare because Head Office has zero consistency. You can enforce their own policies- which is what any middle manager is supposed to do- and they just won’t back you up. They like to make it up as they go.

Is that why there are so few applicants for positions at times?

I really think that’s true. For example, V******* was the only applicant to be Academic Team Leader at one point. Management, especially at Kuningan, is a poisoned chalice. 6 school managers and as many Actels in 6 years. Its just rotating chairs there. When Atika became School Manager of Sudirman there were literally no other applicants. I think people are starting to realize that its just not worth it.

What did you do with Colm O’Mahony’s complaint that he should be paid a completion of contract bonus for breaking his contract?

I handed him the piece of paper which stated what the penalty clauses were.

So there was a written document from TBI as to how the matter should be handled?

Yes. There was a policy document to be handed out explaining what he had to pay. It was all in the contract, of course.

What happened then?

I was told that Colm O’Mahony made a formal complaint to Ibu Tuti, the Head of HR. It seems that him and Matthew France, who are close friends, were always running to her.

What was the outcome?

Its controversial. Luke told me that Colm was paid the bonus after all. Mind you, Colm O’Mahony had left by then so he was never going to be able to contradict Preece if it wasn’t true. I presumed that he had received the payment. After you started this blog you said Colm O’Mahoney had told you that he hadn’t received it after all. Who knows what the truth is? Maybe HR gave it to him. Maybe it didn’t. I wasn’t involved whatsoever in the decision after it went to Tuti and Mariam.

In one email Colm O’Mahony mentioned that it wasn’t fair because Nicola had received it when she broke her contract in 2010?

I was not in Kuningan when Nicola left. So I have no awareness of that issue. Its interesting to me that I am blamed by Colm O’Mahonyand Matthew France for driving expat teachers out. Clearly, it isn’t true. Nicola broke her contract on Wati. Every single expat teacher left TBI Riau in 2012. In fact, people have always left that company in droves.

If Colm O’Mahony was correct and Nicola did receive her completion of contract bonus after breaking her contract, who would have authorized it?

Luke Preece. And he also brought her down from Bandung. Like Matthew and Minnie, who he shifted from Bandung to Kuningan with him, she was a nightmare to manage and refused to write reports and so on. She was notorious. Why Luke gave her a bonus when she broke her contract is highly suspicious.

And doesn’t the whole episode show why having uncertain policies is a rotten idea! If you award Nicola for breaking a contract, then the next Colm, Dick or Harry will expect it too. It’s so typical of Luke to undermine discipline by favoring his stooges and then creating resentment from others.

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