Friday, 7 March 2008

Banned on the run

A recent comment on DMO asked: "I'm about to leave a Dubai publishing company and move to another. I am presuming my company won't want me to go to a competitor (ie rival publisher, the titles aren't in direct conflict), but I'm reassured that DMC don't uphold bans on journos. Anyone had problems making a move?"

Forget about press freedom - are hacks able to move between companies without incurring a work ban? Do publishing houses use nefarious means to spoil a former employee's move? And, do they pay up on gratuities or force you to pay back huge sums of "relocation" fees? In pre-Dubai Media City days, it used to be far better for a journo to get themselves sacked if it was after less than three years at the company than it was to resign, which meant their gratuity was reduced by two-thirds.

What are the implications for a hack wishing to leave their job if they realise they've made a terrible mistake/been lured to Dubai under false pretences/hate everyone they work with/get offered more money from The Nation*? (* delete as applicable)

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Get sacked - and also, if you're new, hang onto your passport until the last moment. I reckon you could string this out for 3weeks. Should give some time to figure out if you've made a mistake or not. That way you're not beholden to the company who have employed you.

I recently made the big mistake of taking a job in Dubai. Of the 4 people working for the same company in the staff accommodation I was staying at, 2 resigned and one (me) was fired.

They ended up with virtually nothing - I ended up with a nice slab of cash.

Anonymous said...

Well, my publisher threatened to sue me if I took my staff with me to my new company. No idea whether he has any grounds to or not...

Anonymous said...

Didn't Gulf News, AMG and the Nation have to come to some sort of gentlemen's agreement over Abu Dhabi's plundering of Dubai-based reporters? Was it Nisr or AMG that threatened to start banning people if any more hacks went up Sheikh Zayed Road?

chris said...

I've heard that if you go on an office rampage with some sort of weapon, providing you don't actually kill anyone, then you get double the gratuity.

That's a fact.

Anonymous said...

at last....someone has found a use for hello magazine..roll it up...threaten to whack fairservice over the head with it....walk away with the readies )
(on second thoughts it's probably not thick enough! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Ok - so you're not allowed to organise in the Dubai work place - and in fact any attempts will make you a target.

The next best tactic is sabotage - find ways to hurt your employers' pockets - copy important docs and send them to their competitors - break office equipment - super glue locks - scratch the bosses' cars - upload viruses to the server - destroy company records - there's a million ways to do this - if they fu*k with you fu8k with them back.

Anonymous said...

Great idea, engage in criminal acts that will get you jail time. That'll learn 'em!

Anonymous said...

the trick is - don't get caught - some stuff, such as copying docs and sending to competitors, will never result in prison. everyone can find a way, just use your imagination.

and anyway - you certainly never heard the labourers whining when they were fighting for the most basic freedoms.

Anonymous said...

Is it just one person all over this blog obssessed with the plight of labourers or is everyone part of it? Seems every time I read DMO these days there's some one spinning the thread to have something to do with working conditions of construction workers.

Anonymous said...

no - i was trying to spin a bit of good old fashioned subversion

the labourers have just taken the lead - they could be called a 'vanguard'

but, you probably think that the labourers aint a story

Anonymous said...

I worked at ITP and they made it pretty tough for me. I left on very good terms with my editor, his boss and even his boss. Yet and still they withheld about 6000 dhs they owed me. Then even tried to say I owed them for the crap, roach-infested accomodations. Plan well my friend. They will look you in the eye, tell you it's all OK and promptly stab you in the back.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hi. Sorry to off topic, not sure how or if it's possible to start a new thread.

But this blog has some very disturbing points for someone who has just emailed his application off to ITP.

Most importantly, does this company really hold on to your passport? I didn't think you could get away with that anywhere in the world. Even Bangladeshi labourers are told to hang onto their travel documents. Is this just a pipe dream?

Also, is a six-day working week the norm? And just how bad is the politics and bullying. Is there any Australian who might be able to tell me in reference to, say, News Limited. I worked there previously but was able to avoid most of the worst by just keeping my head down. Still, not very pleasant.

Thanks for any advice you or anyone out there can offer.

Anderson

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

To the person asking about ITP, like any company it has its good points and bad points. It does not, however, hold on to your passport, it does pay on time and there is not a six day working week. It does entail some overtime, but that's publishing. There is a lot of internal politics, there are some people with little talent who got there by sucking up, but there are also some talented people producing magazines that are not all that bad, and certainly among the best in this market. I was there for two years and enjoyed parts of it immensely, and hated other parts. If you've found a job where you love everything you're very lucky indeed. Don't let the agendas of a couple of bitter hacks with axes to grind put you off. No doubt I will be attacked for attempting to put forward a balanced opinion, which I'm sure, if you have half a brain cell, will demonstrate to you exactly how seriously you should take their comments.

Anonymous said...

It depends on your aspirations - if you're content working on average stuff and taking home a pay cheque then ITP is perfect for you. It's not particularly challenging and not particularly inspiring.

But, truth be told, most of Dubai is like that.

So whether anywhere else is better in the UAE is a moot point.

As for the hours - ITP has a very high turnover of staff and no Human Resources department so its recruitment is a total shambles. It also struggles, because of its nasty rep, to get in people from outside who have real talent. Most mags are either understaffed or populated with morons.

Hence, if you are bit bright, want to do well and keen to work, you'll end up working yourself to death.

Anonymous said...

As someone who worked at ITP for a couple of years, I'd say the six day week is the norm. If not six actual days, then six days' worth of hours - and that's before you even get to the weekend.

If you work on one title, you might be OK. Slog across several and it seems you'll soon be clocking up the hours. Add to that the ridiculous amount of supplements they'll throw into the mix just to generate ad sales revenue. Stress, exhaustion and understaffing are not things which unduly concern ITP management.

And it's definitely better to be fired than to leave voluntarily. I've never heard of any passport troubles, though.

Anonymous said...

Nice to hear a couple of balanced opinions on here. I was at ITP for a while, and enjoyed it for the most part. Agree about the hours though.
How about a poll...what's the best/worst publishing house to work for. There's ITP, Motivate, CPI, TMF, AMG, DIT, Gulf News...
IMHO -
ITP - mostly very well paid, several good titles, long hours
DIT - staff never paid on time/unstable
Motivate - somewhere in the middle wages-wise, couple of decent titles, long hours, no direction, little in terms of career progression
CPI - two good titles, disorganised management structure, poor wages/perks

all IMHO and open to debate, naturally...

Anonymous said...

DIT - hasn't that folded?

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for all the comments. Am certainly pleased to hear about the passport and six days' worth of hours over a five day working week sounds about what I'd expect.

Will let you all know if I end up with the job.

Anderson.

Anonymous said...

Ok - here's the real skinny on the passport thing at ITP.

Once you sign the contract you give them your passport.

They then put it in their safe.

Where it stays for about a week.

They then take it away to get a visa.

That takes another two weeks.

You then get it back.

If you realise that ITP/Dubai ain't for you before the visa is processed they will still have your passport.

They may use that as leverage to get you to accept a settlement.

I know of at least one case where they did this.

"You won't get your passport back unless you sign the settlement" type stuff.

Without a visa you are free to leave Dubai and do what you want.

IF the visa has been processed then you will have to pay a large visa fee to get it cancelled. Unless you have another job waiting for you in UAE ITP will then, on termination of employment and according to UAE law, take you to the airport and will give you your passport back there when you depart.

However, if you have debts in Dubai (everything from the Burj to that Porsche that annoying c*nt in sales drives is on credit in Dubai) it will be very hard for you to leave.

Hence my recommendation at the start of this thread to drag the visa process out for at least the first couple of weeks - that way you can just walk if you want and they will still have to pay you and your flight home. This works best if you can get sacked.

This is best achieved by trying to organise a union.

Anonymous said...

just as a side comment/thread - do any ex-UK journos keep up with their NUJ subs while in Dubai???

Or are you all too scared of the Man?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anderson: News Ltd vs ITP. Walk in the offices of The Australian, turn right and you'll find classroom after classroom just waiting for the extensive staff training programmes. Mention staff development to ITP and they'll give you a puzzled look.
If you think you had it tough at News, you've no idea...

Anonymous said...

I like making trouble - Serafin employs known crooks which certainly calls into question his judgement and could point to the fact he's been a bit dodgy in the past.

If I was a journalist in Dubai I would be all over the geezer and what I couldn't publish in the UAE would certainly get an airing elsewhere.

He comes across very much like a tikka-tinged version of Conrad Black.

I also think he doesn't need lackeys like you to defend him.

Anonymous said...

Tikka tinged? Kiss my black ass you witless redneck.

Anonymous said...

tikka-tinged refers to fake tan you plum.

It's use is mostly widely associated with Terry Venables.

Conrad Black is the ex-owner of the Telegraph....

Anonymous said...

And golliwog means cuddly toy.

Anonymous said...

I'm 1441. Lackey? I don't think so. I would never work for him again.
But I do believe in vaguely fair play. If it's got to the point where an anonymous poster can make virtually any allegation about somone - even if they more than likely know it's untrue and are making it up - then fuck that, I'm giving up on DMO.
See ya.

Mr Sh1t said...
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anon_mediator said...

With SecretDubai being blocked in the UAE at present, it might be an idea if everyone kept potentially defamatory comments to themselves... We'll just have to delete them so the site doesn't get proxied. And you know how much we hate censoring these extended debates! (how I wish I was getting paid by the word for them instead).

Anonymous said...

how about introducing anonymous 'tags'?
you have to get a tag to post...your actual ID is anonymous (except to moderators, i guess). one tag per email address. posters would soon get to know the 'characters' behind tags, and reasoned debate may be promoted?
works on the football site i dip into.
just an idea...

Anonymous said...

maybe all posters should have to give a dna sample and have a chip implanted in their brains before they can post?

Serafin openly employs known criminals - nothing defamatory in that - it's a widely disseminated fact.

It's his choice to be associated with this - it certainly raises my eyebrows.

I for one intend to dig quite deep into his past and see what skeletons he has hiding (has not one journo in Dubai done this yet??? do you just take EVERYTHING lying down??)

Then when I've got the facts I'll put them up here.

Anonymous said...

Yes golliwog is a nasty racial slur...

I would assume the guy railing against rednecks was part of the campaign to get Andrew Brown released??

Or does is his struggle only extend to the realm of judging other posters ill-judged, but obviously not badly intended comments?

Does he rail against the racism present in Dubai or not?

Probably not.

Anonymous said...

He rails against it in his own home and sometimes DMO comes over for a visit.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 02:49 is right, this site would be better off if posters had tags, otherwise it's impossible to track the balance of opinion and it would hopefully stop those tedious 'you're a c**t' No you're the c**t' postings. It works fantastically well on the Guardian Blog sites.

Anonymous said...

Difference is 'tween Guardian and here is that there are few spaces for open debate in the UAE/Dubai.

Monitoring input of any kind is a bit dodgy in this context - who's to say DMO people won't be monitored by the state?

I think firmer moderation by DMO itself is the way to go - anything that smacks of surveillance is the thin end of the wedge in my book.

No to tagging.

And the old 'it won't bother you if you've got something to hide' line don't swing either - in Dubai some of the opinions expressed on here require people to be hidden.

Goldie said...

In that way, the govt could monitor our IP addresses.
let's all use voluntary tags. ill start..

Anonymous said...

DMC don't ban journalists -

They just shut down whole TV stations - such as the independent Pakistani anti-Musharaff GEO station.

Imagine if the did that to CNN or the BBC??????

To paraphrase an old saying 'First the came for the Pakistanis. But I did nothing cos I wasn't a Pakistani.....Then they came for me."

Anonymous said...

secret D D got the ban online.

Anonymous said...

I think Serafin, quasi-owner of ITP is a decent person, still I hate him. I am saying decent about him just to be fair as I witenessed an incedent where an xITPer sales guy, with motivate at the time, asked for help after trashing his Porsch while drunk, and Serafin was more than generous paying him in that dire situation.

Anonymous said...

I heard Serafin was once spotted kissing a baby....

Anonymous said...

Bored now. New topic please...

goldie said...

Just me, or was DMO blocked in the UAE for a while there?

Anonymous said...

goldie: I had heard that too, but it wasn't blocked when I checked (I am a creative surfer anyway and don't rely on TECOM or etisalat to choose my reading material!)

goldie said...

ah, it's back for me too....though judging by the lack of posts others may have been experiencing difficulties too?

Anonymous said...

Either that, or these whiny feckers have finally run out of stuff to say

goldie said...

Press lunch held at JBH today for the launch of The National.
A 'room full of blokes of pensionable age' comment made me chuckle. However, not heard much about the actual paper, dummies of which were unveiled..

Anonymous said...

Looks like it's just me and you, Goldie. Everyone else has buggered off. Including the moderators.

Anonymous said...

so, what does the dummy look like? have you scanned in the pages and posted them somewhere so we can make snide comments about them? why not?

Anonymous said...

true, wakey-wakey moderators! two new threads. a) the dummies of the national that must be floating around by now. b) the response to the al quoz explosion. especially jeff "we've got a lot to get hysterical about today" price and his breathless efforts. "we've got to help with the evac." "we are all pulling together in the studio, just as the emergency services are doing in dubai." he then came back to update us all on nightline. brilliant.

goldie said...

As i understand it, The National guys had a bit of a bash last night - so there were probably a few DMO regulars hungover this morning. And then there was the Moet bash tonight, so there'll possibly be a few more hangovers tomorrow. Maybe the scanned in dummies will appear by Thurs evening? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I spoke at one point to someone from Al Arabiya about some of their employees defecting to the local BBC bureau and he said he didn't think it was a big deal because TV station employees move around quite often. He said some of their employees come from other TV stations and vice versa - it sounded essentially like a giant poaching carnival, and he said there weren't any legal restrictions on the employees moving around so often.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick question: So if you have been for over three years in a company, is it best to resign or get sacked? Why?