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Tag Archives: Rami el Samra

HR manager in charge for intimidating and firing staff in EKAS

In another, shorter, news for today, I finally found the full name of a mysterious “Karen“. The EK Human Resources manager in charge for scaring, intimidating and firing staff in EK Airport Services (ground staff). I guess Emirates has a lot of managers like Karen is, but I don’t know them.

I do know Karen, though. I have met her three times. The first time was when I had my disciplinary meeting. She was in the room with Rami El Samra (my disciplinary meeting manager) when I knocked. They told me to wait a little bit. Karen exited the room and went and Rami El Samra called me to come in for my disciplinary meeting. I never found out about their discussion before I came in, but I find it suspicious and unfair. 

Second time I met Karen it was at the airport hallway, the day I was supposed to be fired. She was walking towards offices with HR manager Maktoom Mohd. Hassan. Mr. Maktoom greeted me, Ms. Karen ignored me.

Third time I met Ms. Karen was at the same day at my line manager’s office (Gavin Elliot-Wilson). I greeted Mr. Gavin with a hand shake, and I greeted Ms. Karen as well, but she was a little bit surprised that I wanted to greet her, so she got confused with her hands and papers. This meeting was the moment when I found out that the person who talked to my manager before the disciplinary meeting was the very same person who fired me – HR manager Karen Galer. The judge, the jury and the executioner.

Ms. Karen was sitting in the office silently, while Mr. Gavin told me that my service is ended. I asked Ms. Karen where I can read about my rights and obligations after service termination, and she got confused, obviously not ready for the questions or knowing about the basics of the service termination in Emirates. She directed me to the End of Service counter in HQ.

I heard a lot about Ms. Karen Galer. I heard how she invites staff to the offices at the airport and intimidates them with close service terminations. She does it with coldness and regardless of anything that staff has to say in their defence. A the same time, if asked something about Emirates rules and policies, she doesn’t know the answers. So, her only job is to tell people that they are fired.

I was seeking for so long to find out who “Karen” is. Please, feel free to describe your experiences with her because she is, by my opinion, typical representative of an inhumane approach to employees in Emirates Airline, especially as she is working as an HR manager – who supposed to be responsible for staff’s well-being.

Ms. Karen is also welcome to comment.

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Open forums for Cabin Crew

Seems that Mr.Terry Daly (Divisional Senior Vice President Service Delivery) has finally acknowledged the problems that his department has. Since Emirates Airline managers always try to “resolve” their problems by using force and pressure first, I am not surprised that Mr.Daly introduced new sickness certification process without any discussion with his staff or possibility for receiving crew’s feedback on his unpopular decisions.

According to some unofficial data around 1000 crew called sick two days ago which is enormous number for already suffering Service Delivery department. This fact, along with huge turnover rate, drop in service delivery quality, lack of crew and crew’s writings on the Internet may forced Mr.Terry to try and find a different solution besides the unpopular benefit cuts. Mr.Daly promised to organize some Open forums for cabin crew where they will discuss problems and issues.

Mr.Terry Daly's call for Open forums

Mr.Terry Daly’s call for Open forums

Now, these open forums were already organized in EKAS (Airport Service) department without much success (anyway, Ms.Anoma was moved to another position soon after the forums). The absence of success is only normal when your managers think that their participation at Open forum is an act of good will and that they are there to “help” their employees. No open forum ever will resolve any departmental issue until EK managers start to comprehend that they are not there to “help” (which was Ms.Anoma Manuel‘s vision on forums’ purposes) but to work together with their team and, actually, help themselves. Managers are not there to help, but to do their job and make decent working conditions for all.

While Ms.Anoma Manuel’s Open forum turned out to be a farce which resulted with my service termination as she couldn’t handle honest and desperate questions in any other way than to punish me for asking them, I hope that Mr.Terry Daly will have more intellect and reason than Ms.Anoma to hear what his staff has to say without firing them.

I know that it is hard to achieve Ms.Anoma Manuel’s levels of mismanagement, bullying and incompetence, therefore I truly hope that Mr.Terry Daly will use these Open forums to really show some care for his staff and to deal with burning issues with success. This blog started with Ms.Anoma’s incapability to lead her department. Let’s hope that it will all end there and that nobody will have to go through things I have been through with Ms.Anoma as my manager.

Good luck to Mr.Terry Daly at his Open forums.

And just to remember how the “Open forum” looked like in EKAS department: 

 

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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


Dragana stopped blogging?

I’ve found this search term on my blog today “Dragana stopped blogging”. Please, be informed that I didn’t stop blogging, I just said everything that I had to say.

As a result of my articles EKAS department is freed from bullying and unprofessional behaviour of a bad mannered and uneducated person by the name Anoma Manuel and following HR SVPs were terminated from the service:

  • Sophia Panayiotou, Senior Vice President Human Resources Business Support,
  • Katarina Ciumei, Senior Vice President Human Resources (Remuneration and Planning),
  • Rick Helliwell, Vice President – Corporate Leadership and Talent Management.

Although all of this means that I was right all the time, nobody from EK called me to apologize or to fulfil their obligations towards me. This speaks enough for itself. There is nobody in Emirates Airline capable enough to lead the company anywhere else than in the complete and total human resource disaster and maybe a bankruptcy as well. Of course, nobody will believe this until it actually happens.

I got offers from some EK passengers who want me to open a special page for them on my blog, where they can talk about bad customer service and negligence they are getting from EK. I am not sure whether to do that as damaging the image of EK was never my goal. Employees’ well-being is, on the other hand, my goal.

This web address is always open for everyone who wants to publish their stories and cases.

My e-mail address is dragana.blog.ek@gmail.com and if you are experiencing any kind of injustice or harassment and you want to talk about it in public (and anonymously), do not hesitate to send me an e-mail any time.


Example of a management incapability in Emirates Airline

I have found out today that EKAS management has retrieved “old” check in and boarding computer system at airport services. That system is called “GUI”. New system, which was implemented a few months ago and which is withdrawn today is called “ABC” system.

Since management finally noticed that customer service is bad and that there are huge queues of passengers waiting to be checked in, they decided to do something about it. The first step was previously mentioned customer service training “Together for take off” where we were taught to smile better than customer service agents in Etihad and we got chocolate cubicles as gifts from DVP Anoma Manuel to do that. All the attempts of present agents to explain the trainers that it is useless to force a sick child to be healthy instead of curing them, remained futile. Our trainers insisted that we don’t know how to smile and that we have to find “an inner motivation and happiness” or to “find a better opportunity outside the company”.

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The second step was to implement new check in and boarding system which will shorten the time of dealing with customers, allowing agents to communicate more with them. Basically, this was not a bad idea, if we exclude the fact that GUI was already efficient and fast enough. So, management introduced the new system by inviting groups of people for a short training, where even trainers didn’t have answers for all questions regarding the new system. During this “test period” numerous problems occurred: system was failing in many steps of check in and it didn’t have some key features for check in process. Supervisors and duty officers reported all the problems to the EKAS management, which remained deaf for all staff complaints.

Eventually, GUI was cancelled and new system was implemented for all (except denied boarding staff). Forcefully. DVP Anoma Manuel and her team of managers threaten agents with warnings if they don’t use the new system. New system was not finished, so mistakes in check in process made due to this fact were attributed to agents, who were punished for them.

Duty officers continued to send negative reports on “ABC” but management didn’t want to admit the fact that their project is not implemented in a skillful way and that a huge amount of money is spent on something that slows down the process of check in, when the whole point was to accelerate it.

While this whole circus was going on, all the agents wondered why the money spent on developing and implementing a new system was not used for raising staff salaries and motivation instead?

It took more than three months for EKAS management to see what check in agents saw immediately: new system was waste of everyone’s time and money. 

This is another proof that EKAS management with Anoma Manuel on top (now DVP outstations) has no contact with airport’s reality and that many managers have no clue how to deal with the operation and customer service.


The responsibility of EK HR management and Sophia Panayiotou SVP – HRBS

Am I vindictive? 

The vast majority of comments, e-mails and Facebook messages that I am getting after starting this blog are supportive, grateful and positive. Many people describe their experiences with EK to me and I have no capacity to publish all of them at the same time, but they are giving me a deeper insight in the amount of sorrow that employment in EK brings to these people.

A few comments had negative tone, accusing me of being “unprofessional”, “disrespectful” and “vindictive” towards my ex managers and Emirates Airline in total. As I have stated before: all people who want to leave a comment on any of my articles here are free to do so. Comments are automatically published, without being previously approved and I moderate and delete only racist or rude comments. Everyone has the freedom to speak loudly and anonymously without being censored. Negative comments which appear here and there are the evidence of such a policy on this blog.

Since I do question myself from time to time about my goals and motives, one comment particularly made me reconsider my motives for writing this blog. My intention was never to hurt anyone or anything. One of my first blog posts was the Open letter to HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum where I have asked him to help me get my job back and to resolve big issues that EKAS has. I went to his office couple of times with my two brave colleagues and my Embassy forwarded him my e-mail. Sheikh Ahmed never answered my open letter and not only that: he deleted all of his public profiles on the internet.

This open letter had brought around 16.000 visitors to this blog. At the time blog was becoming viral, my Embassy called me to tell me that “someone from Emirates Airline” called to tell them that I can “end up in prison” for “writing against Sheikh and UAE” on my blog (which is not true, I respect HH Sheikh Ahmed, UAE and its people). Faced with this false accusations and the virality of my blog I made a decision to “escape” the country without cancelling my visa. I have notified my managers about this fact via e-mail which I have sent to them the day after the “escape”. I was always trying to be honest and clear in my communication with managers and I believe that notifying them that I will not bring my passport to someone who is threatening me with a prison was a fair thing to do. They never replied to this e-mail. As the matter of fact, they are ignoring me ever since.

From this distance of everything that has happened to me I think it’s time to ask myself: am I vindictive?

The answer is: no.

I don’t hate anyone. I am fighting for my rights and after reading all of the sad and sometimes awful EK stories sent to me, something is still keeping me to write this blog.

If I come to think about everything again (and it is certainly painful to think about the way I was terminated and treated during that process) – I am hurt, I am frustrated and I want justice. But it’s all there is. No revenge is on my (conscious) mind.

Why I asked the vice-president how much is her salary?

The first Emirates’ move after I have posted the audio record from the EKAS Open Forum was so cliché – they have removed Ms. Anoma Manuel from her DVP EKAS position. I even felt sorry for her and I have already written about the fact that exchanging managers on their positions without resolving the real problem is not a solution. Ms.Anoma is a victim of a rotten system, as much as all the employees are.

This is my last explanation why I have asked DVP about her salary since it seems to me that the audio record is enough. It was a scream of desperation – my last one after I have been previously dragged from meeting to meeting, punished with warnings and refused when I wanted to discuss the matter of my contract violations with my managers. The question was rhetorical and it aimed to remind all the present managers that their employees are suffering. I was not interested in Ms. Anoma’s salary, I was interested in mine. Only narrow minds can isolate my question from the circumstances and terminate my contract for “inappropriate behaviour”.

As we are speaking about narrow minds, while reading messages of present and ex employees I have thought about whose fault is it that EK system became so rotten over the years? Whose fault is it that almost only managers and other staff with wastas (connections) get promoted and stay in the company, while good and honest people are chased away? Whose fault is it that corporate culture and morale are on a so low level that people massively resign? Whose fault is it that talented and skilled people are neglected and treated like kleenex? Whose fault is it that employees are so unhappy, that discrimination is so much present, that superiors are so nasty towards their staff, that internal policies are so inconsistent?

What are my motives for writing this blog?

I still remember my disciplinary hearing. I fought to have an objective one, since HR management wanted me to have that meeting with two managers who were present at the Open forum. I got a signature on my termination letter from one of those managers (Rami el Samra). In every civilized company a manager who is involved in the case against you can not fire you, except in Emirates Airline.

Dnata HR manager Maria Escobar (the other manager at this hearing) obviously thought that she was a prosecutor at some sort of a lawsuit against me. She was unpleasant,confusing, sometimes aggressive in her body language and sometimes openly disdainful. For example, when I have explained her that I am an HR manager and that I am speaking about the problems in EKAS from my professional point of view, she answered that I am not an HR manager in EK but a check-in agent. Fair enough, indeed I was, but later on she didn’t miss to point out that I am not experienced HR manager like she is (this is what I have managed to understand since Ms.Escobar has a heavy Spanish accent and she is a little bit hard to understand). This tone of communication was somehow unprofessional and ridiculous for me. Is it possible that one HR manager is professionally competing with me at my official disciplinary hearing?

Later on I found out that Ms.Escobar was not the only manager who doesn’t fit my vision of a responsible and objective HR manager. When I have filed an official complaint on harassment to three managers: Ms.Sophia Panayiotou (HR manager), Ms.Masooma (HR manager responsible for national recruitment) and Mr.Adel Redha (from EKAS) – NOBODY replied! One complaint on harassment supported by evidence should be taken very seriously and it is a DUTY of every HR manager to reply on such a complaint, but EK HR management chose to fire the complainant instead. I can write a whole PhD thesis about inefficiency and indifference of HR managers in Emirates Airline (and maybe I will).

My complaint on harassment

My complaint on harassment

I have got my answer from Ms.Sophia only when I was chased away from the airport on my last day of duty and I have sent her a question about the reasons for terminating my contract. She answered that I have behaved in a inappropriate manner, that I have demanded to know the DVP’s salary and that I was insubordinate to my seniors. Instead of claiming that I am not guilty for these accusations, I have posted the audio record of the forum so you can decide for yourself whether I have “demanded” anything or whether I have been rude and aggressive in any way during my communication at the OPEN forum.

My question about the reasons for the dismissal from the service to Ms.Sophia

My question about the reasons for dismissal to Ms.Sophia

The responsibility of EK HR managers

Ms.Sophia failed to do several things which professional and responsible HR manager HAS to do:

1. She did not know about the unmotivated and desperate state of her staff at the airport (and across the whole company, seems to me) or maybe she did know about it, but that is even worse because knowing something is wrong and not doing your job is, actually, a real reason to be fired for

2. She neglected complaints on harassment at work (along with two other managers, but she has the most senior role in this matter)

3. She “explained” the reasons for terminating a contract through a letter to a person she has never bothered to meet before

4. She protected a senior manager (DVP EKAS)  without investigating the issue, without calling any witnesses and without respecting the internal manual procedures

5. By neglecting all the evidence that internal manual is violated, she violated the manual herself and, therefore, she behaved in an extremely unethical and unprofessional manner

6. Ms.Panayiotou violated my freedom of communication (guaranteed by UAE Law) by forbidding me to send e-mails to the Chairman of Emirates Airline (HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum) and then by punishing me for doing so

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Ms.Sophia's answer to my question about the reasons for dismissal

Ms.Sophia’s (who never met me) answer to my question about the reasons for dismissal

In this letter you can notice that I was also punished for sending e-mail to EKAS management, politely asking for the feedback from the Open Forum. All the e-mails that I have sent to my colleagues returned to me, so I assumed that somebody restricted my access to those e-mails addresses. I asked, politely again, if my access is restricted and I sent some evidence of forced overtime to Ms.Anoma. There can be no word of my rude or unprofessional behaviour in any way. Seems that EK managers are not used to honest and open internal communication and exchange of thoughts trough an e-mail correspondence.

The injustice

If you haven’t notice so far, I will make it a little bit more clear: described injustice is haunting me. Sometimes it passes through my head like a disturbing memory, sometimes it appears like someone else’s memory in messages and e-mails. EK injustices and mistreatments towards me and other employees are following me since the very first post I have written here and I continue to write just to get rid of that bitter feeling.

Never in my life I have experienced such an evil behaviour at work of someone to whom I have trusted. I’ve trusted recruiters, I’ve trusted my trainers and I’ve trusted my managers and I was doing my job with joy (at the beginning) and with responsibility (all the time).

The most evil thing that HR managers did to me was to fire me for “inappropriate behaviour” knowing that it will look very bad in my resume and they throw me back home to find another job with this resume.

For your information, dear EK HR managers, your decisions and actions influence peoples’ careers and lives. You can’t wipe your noses with people and throw them in the garbage bin. Or you can, but don’t ask those people then why they are still writing their blogs.

Yes, I am struggling to start my life from the beginning again, with a resume that says that I am behaving in an inappropriate way at my work post. That was your revenge to me and I am living with it. My blog, on the contrary, is not a revenge, it is simply a defence from you and your evil.