Part 31. TBI Kelapa Gading Loses A Dozen Teachers in Three Years

How was staff retention during BF’s time as School Manager of TBI Kelapa Gading?

You would have to say chronically bad. I know that it opened with 6 expat teachers in early 2006 and by the time I came two and a half years later, there were only 3, including me. I heard from the Office Assistants that four different expat women had started there in 2006-2008 and not one of them had finished her contract. There was one called J****** who was famous for her clashes with BF, the DOS. BF shouted at her if she had a day off and she eventually responded by having every Monday off for weeks on end. She finally left after four months.

How about the male teachers? Did they fare any better under BF?

Everyone at least thought that BF was odd. Eccentric. But a couple didn’t mind him. It was said he mellowed out after a couple of drinks but I never went out drinking with him, so I can’t say. However, I think it is fair to say that vast majority of teachers didn’t like him. He had a legendary clash of wills with a teacher called R****. The two of them off had shouting matches within the school. I heard that a dozen expats had passed through that school in less than 3 years and more than half had not completed their contracts. BF was regarded as a horrible boss by most people who crossed paths with him. When he was eventually removed in May 2009- or not renewed or whatever the polite term is- the owner Pauwsan Sutanto called half a dozen past teachers and he told them that not one of them had defended BF. They had all been very negative in their assessment of him.

How had he gained the job in the first place? 

He had been hanging around TBI for years. He had been living in Indonesia since the 1980s or whatever and worked for them in Bandung for over a decade. According to David Bradbury, he had been so obnoxious at TBI Kuningan that Ashley Platts had wanted to get rid of him. So he promoted him to the role of School Manager so he didn’t have to see him anymore!

I’ve heard that story too. I heard that job descriptions at Head Office were specifically written at so that BF wouldn’t be eligible to apply for them. I heard that Ashley Platts hated him like nothing else.

It’s funny because Ashley Platts told me that BF wasn’t that bad really! I suppose that was to cover up the fact that he had sent him out to Kelapa Gading. It’s exactly the same as what he said about Chris Needham after he self-destructed. Ashley is always trying to hide how badly his appointments work out, I suppose!

Uhuh. He really is. Why was BF eventually removed?

That’s kind of a long story. I think he had slowly worn out his welcome with the company due to his refusal to do any work and his history of declining sales at TBI Kelapa Gading. But what brought it to a head was when he refused to let me take the holidays in my contract. Or more precisely, he said I wouldn’t be renewed unless I agreed to give up my holidays and be ‘paid out’.

How did that work?

The contract said I had four weeks holidays per year. I was 9 months through my contract and asked to take my leave. He said that he wanted me to give up my leave and receive a cash payment in lieu of it even though earlier in the contract he had requested I take my leave at the end of the contract. I said, no, I wanted to take my leave. I hadn’t taken one day’s sick leave all year and wanted my entitlements.

He said that it was impossible as he didn’t want to have to organize cover for my classes. He said that teachers at TBI Kelapa Gading didn’t get holidays basically.

How did you respond?

I said that I would leave at the end of my contract. I wouldn’t renew. I told him that he was dishonoring his promise but I would get a job elsewhere.

Why didn’t you end up leaving?

It got even stranger. BF came into my class about 10 months through my contract and said that my KITAS ran out a few weeks before my contract. This was because the Immigration Office had given me 11 months on my KITAS not twelve. Apparently they do this from time to time in North Jakarta as a way of extracting extra payments from ESL schools. It is some kind of government scam. BF then said that the owner Pauwsan Sutanto was cheap and didn’t want to make the extra payment to bribe Immigration. So he said that he was terminating my contract and not paying it out even though I had done nothing except request my holiday leave!

So they were going to break your contract and were refusing to pay out their contractual obligations?

That’s correct. First BF refused to let me take holidays and then he said he was going to break my contract and refuse to pay it out because the owner was some kind of miser.

How did you react to this?

That was when I had finally had enough with TBI. I had worked hard at that school and my classes were big and my students had stayed enrolled all year. Everywhere else classes were closing. I had done a good job despite the total lack of supervision or guidance. I told him that I wasn’t going to be bullied by him or the owner and would go to Head Office and explain what had happened.

What was the outcome of that process?

BF was fired and Retty’s alleged relative Helmy V. was appointed School Manager. Things got even worse from that point.

Let’s take a closer look at all this on Monday.

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