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Tag Archives: Kevin Griffiths

When people become wolves always hungry for more money

I’ve said this couple of times here and these “The National” articles just confirm it: you give love at the places you receive love; same goes for the hate. Place that lures people to come and live in it just in order to drain money from them, can’t expect bright future for itself. This kind of place loses all the humanity, money becomes God and people turn into wolves, biting each other for a coin (just like EK managers do).

I am afraid that the whole planet turned into one greedy place where people forgot that they are all connected and that happiness of others means happiness of oneself. But there are places in the world where love still exists and where money didn’t kill all the nobleness. You decide if you live in one of those places and whether you are contributing to its sustainability or to its devastation (like many EK managers do). You decide if you are truly happy or miserable as hell although you have (bloody) money and all that goes with it.

Articles:

UAE expats priced out of their lives

http://www.thenational.ae/business/personal-finance/uae-expats-priced-out-of-their-lives

I‘ve recently come across a growing number of people who are packing up and leaving the UAE, others who are seriously contemplating it, and many who are being vocal about their pain, but are staying put – for now.

Add to this snippets of conversation overheard about this when I’m out and about.

The problem is the cost of living.

Expats who come on bumper packages and have the increasingly pricey outgoings of rent and education covered – wholly or partially – won’t be affected by this. It’s long-term residents and entrepreneurs who are being hurt the most, especially those with children of school-going age.

And these two groups of people are exactly what any city needs; they choose to live here and want to stay, but cannot afford to.

In the past fortnight alone I have discovered that a handful of neighbours will be leaving the country – one family in particular embodies what’s happening: they’ve been in Dubai for a couple of decades – with one short-term hiatus in the late 1990s owing to family circumstances – and they’re torn. Both the husband and wife have built up businesses in the UAE, their three children are very settled and love their lives, and they genuinely believe that Dubai has a lot more to offer than what’s available back home. But the double whammy of rising fees along with not being paid on time by clients has hit them hard.

This is a family that saves but can’t any more – and they’ve been dipping into savings over many months to survive. Their life lurches from one term’s school fees to the next. And it just doesn’t work for them.

But they’re struggling with the decision to leave.

Everything’s in place for them to go come the end of the year: they have a yard sale in a week and grandparents are over to spend one last Christmas in the UAE sun.

But it’s tough. It’s not just that they’re saying goodbye to special friends, the only life their children know and their hopes for their futures here, it’s also that this time it’s different: going means never coming back, and that’s affecting them. A lot. They can’t come back because they would never be able to afford entry level prices to live in the UAE once again. Finding a home, for example, would be a major barrier once they give up their current lease. Their place is going for Dh280,000 these days, but they pay Dh150,000 – and they only moved in a year- and-a-half ago.

Their basic outgoings add up to Dh600,000 a year. That’s school fees for three, rent, utilities and other basic, red-tape and living costs. They could do a lot with that money back home – where schooling is free.

I’m told that when confronted with a dilemma and not being able to work out what’s best for them, this couple tosses a coin and goes with fate.

I don’t believe they’ll be doing that this time round. It just doesn’t make sense to stay.

A view echoed by friends who got together earlier in the month to celebrate someone’s 40 years in the UAE. Many of these long-term expat residents are upping sticks too. Most don’t have children at school, but they also find that the UAE isn’t what it used to be.

Of course there will always be people who bemoan a past lost for ever. Cities change – but this isn’t just about a fast-paced metropolis evolving, it’s also very much about how difficult it is to live in a place where you cannot save, and where you have no benevolent government that will pay your way when you go back home. So the cash-flow crunch dictates that people either live irresponsibly – not providing for the future – or make very emotional decisions and go elsewhere.

But some – I call them “expat prisoners” – can’t leave. These are people who have superb track records in their fields and cannot get jobs back home because of their age. The big question is: if everything they earn goes out to pay for their lives and if there’s no hope of them saving, or of creating additional streams of income, is it worth staying?

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Some are trying to figure out how to do both: stay and stem the money haemorrhage. I met someone last weekend who is contemplating moving to Ras Al Khaimah or somewhere in between there and Dubai, purely to get out of the rent hell that is her Dubai at the moment. Not only has her rent been put up by 20 per cent (take it or leave it), but she has just been told that no money will be put into the property as it seems it’s been earmarked for demolition.

Scores of people want to stay and contribute to the place they call home. When people like this can’t afford to to make ends meet, we lose more than just another expat.

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me

Why making ends meet simply isn’t enough for UAE expats struggling with rising costs

http://www.thenational.ae/business/personal-finance/why-making-ends-meet-simply-isnt-enough-for-uae-expats-struggling-with-rising-costs

We came in 2000 with promise and hope

We’re leaving this month being strung by a rope

The rope of high costs, bad mortgage and loans

No cash in the bank, down to the bare bones

This ode is for all, who like us are in stress

Don’t leave it too late to get out of this mess

Before you read on, you might well just say

“It’s all your own fault, why on earth did you stay?!”

After 14 long years of blood, sweat and tears

We couldn’t just run leaving all the arrears

If you’re struggling and stressing over bills you must pay

Just wrap it all up and call it a day

This is part of a poem I was sent in response to my column last week “Expats priced out of their lives”. It nails it for every single person who reached out to me having read the piece.

The message is clear: people are in pain. Today I’d like to share what I’ve learnt from the responses. Two things come up throughout:

• People are having difficulty “hanging on”, as someone put in a tweet to me.

• The serious and ongoing ramifications as a result of the financial crisis and the resulting economic dive in 2009 are now coming to a head.

This is a smattering of what was shared:

“We felt like wallets with legs.”

“My descriptor for ‘the only way to be in the UAE’ is to get a safe and secure salary, guaranteed housing, schools paid for, just do the job you are paid for and, sadly, don’t invest any of yourself into the country.”

Seeing as those who wrote in were mainly entrepreneurs or professionals who don’t get their outgoings covered, this makes sense.

The things is, we’re dealing with an ongoing conflict of wanting to invest – at the very least emotionally – in where we’re living, while “knowing” that one day we will leave.

This is how one astute person put it:

“After you’ve spent more than five years here, you stop thinking of it as a working holiday-in-the-sun and start thinking about it as a long-term proposition.”

This is the story of another entrepreneur who certainly thought of the UAE as a long-term home, albeit temporary: since 2008 he has ploughed more than Dh10 million of profit back into the UAE. Two decades on he’s throwing in the towel.

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“My original long-range plan was to live in Dubai until 2025, I’m just leaving 11 years early. Why? I can’t pinpoint any one thing that pushed me over the edge on one fell swoop. It has been about three years coming, more and more discontent, more and more discussing the value of being in Dubai vis-a-vis somewhere else.

“In April of this year our sponsor told us he was going to change the terms of our agreement and wanted more money. Then our trade licence that we have had with no problems since 2007 kept getting rejected over and over again, then our warehouse landlord raised our rents by nearly 100 per cent. At that point my CFO got fed up and recommended we close shop since our profit margins had dropped to very low single digits. I held out for four more months but I’m now done. It just isn’t worth it any more. “

The key for success is sustainability. The ability of people to sustain themselves, and if they can then by default a city can sustain itself too.

Not too long ago, people suffered the immense stress of having to leave their lives behind either because they were pushed – downsizing, going bust and so on – or because they ran. No one wants that to happen again.

Back to the entrepreneur: “Would I do it all over again? Yes. What would I do different?”

Well, suffice to say that he would have prioritised his ‘forever home’ as a place to invest in.

He ends with this:

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not leaving Dubai destitute but I sure am a lot less well off then if I had left in 2008-09 or even if I hadn’t started any of my companies. Sad but I’ll pick myself up and do it all over again.”

This person isn’t living hand-to-mouth – but many here are. There is a clear call for help from a growing number of expats, along with a desire to make things work for them so that they can continue to live and work in the UAE.

While you think over your own situation, I will leave you with another line from the poem:

We defended this town saying how great it will be

At the end of the day, it’s just “Me, Me, Me, Me.”

Nima Abu Wardeh is the founder of the personal finance website cashy.me. You can reach her at nima@cashy.me

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Cabin Crew’s working and living problems in Emirates Airline

Recently I came into the possession of some cabin crew complaints. Someone concerned for crew’s wellbeing sent some unsettling screenshots to me. Screenshots are taken from the internal blog where cabin crews are “discussing” their issues with Kevin Griffiths, VP of Service Delivery in Emirates Airline.

Since all ex and present Emirates staff share same problems and issues, I have agreed to publish some of these screenshots in hope that someone will react and improve working and living conditions for cabin crew.

Let’s make no mistake here: we are all loyal to the company itself, including me, even though I know this is hard to believe. I fought for two whole months to stay and continue to work in EK. At the same time I was fighting for my dignity. Yes, dignity. I have the right to try and change my reality if I don’t like it and I did it. You see, when you are treated like an animal, without rights and respect, without a decent salary even, you start to lose the sense of a self-value and your will starts to break. At this point you can either turn into an obedient slave (which is the very aim of this kind of staff treatment) or you can raise your voice and defend yourself. You can also resign, but a resignation is a far more painful solution than both of previous mentioned ones because it’s a total personal and professional defeat at every possible level when you leave your country to come to work in another (totally different) one.

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Let’s not make another mistake: EK management has developed some rather wicked methods of deceiving its staff. First thing that all departments’ management have in common is “pretending to listen”. Mr. Kevin Griffiths has opened this blog for cabin crew last year (as I can see from screenshots) and nobody addressed the issues so far. On the contrary, many benefits are taken away from cabin crew. Open forum was organized in EKAS, and only few issues have been addressed, excluding the biggest ones: salary, living conditions, long and tiring shifts, medical insurance and transportation.

It also seems that management is using some nasty “motivation” strategy globally and as a perfect excuse for their incapability. This is the motto sentence of that strategy:

“You must find a motivation within yourself, and if you are still not happy, resign. There are thousands waiting in line to work for us”.

Man, if this wasn’t a stupid logic in the circumstances where you have mass of educated, smart and multicultural staff, it would be ingenious. Except it’s not. It’s stupid and it makes EK staff angry. Let me remind you that I got a written warning for expressing my civilized disagreement with this quoted statement at the Aviation College, during a customer service training. The Trainer, Mrs. Ulfat, complained to my managers for not agreeing with her, and my managers gave me a warning. If this wasn’t so sad it would be a huge joke. Trainers and managers are punishing you because you are not agreeing with them? And this training was all about why we should smile and be better than Etihad customer service agents. You know what else is funny? They gave us a cube of chocolate (a special gift from DVP Anoma Manuel, they said) and some wallet-like and cup-like gifts and a lunch coupon to buy that smile. Enough said about EK motivation strategy. If you are (an obedient) manager you get motivated by money and respect. If you are anything less you get a cube of chocolate and a warning if you don’t eat chocolate.

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It turns out that it is easy to be a manager in the country which forbids strikes and unions and your company is not a subject of a Federal Labour Law which protects some of the labour rights. It’s a chicken that lays golden eggs. You just have to show up and pick up those eggs. Except when chicken refuses to lay eggs. Or it resigns. Then you find another chicken, but the eggs, although still golden, are of a lower quality. When that chicken resigns as well (or you terminate it), you go and find another one and you scare it to lay eggs. The chicken agrees to eat the cube of chocolate and to lay eggs, but these eggs have a bitter taste for everyone except the management. From that moment on, every next chicken will lay plain eggs and everybody will notice that, except managers. They will notice it only when all the chickens go to lay golden eggs for another airliner.

Golden Eggs.

Back to the cabin crew. Besides working conditions (such as (lack of) rest, food, salary, backstabbing, maternity leave etc.) seems like they have some serious safety issues and seems like nobody cares.

Since safety issues are a professional subject and I am not a cabin crew professional I will let you read the screenshots (I am apologizing for their occasional bad quality) and make your own conclusions.

Of course, safety is a primary concern for every airliner, so what the he*l is going on in Emirates Airline when cabin crew is complaining about the lack of rest and on-board safety?

Screenshots

Safety and rest:

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Safety1

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Safety5

safety9

Motivation:

Motivation1

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Motivation2

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motivation8

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Motivation16

Maternity Leave:

maternity leave1

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Backstabbing:

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Food:

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