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This is a question The Boss

My chief at a large retail chain used to decide on head office redundancies by chanting "One potato, two potato" over the staff list. Tell us about your mad psycho bosses - collect your P45 on the way out.

Bruce Springsteen jokes = Ban, ridicule

(, Thu 18 Jun 2009, 13:06)
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'Ominous' Integrated Creative Consultancy
Not quite sure if it’s the boss or the owner but the term psycho is to say at the very least apt. Around March last year I was approached and offered a job with a creative agency, a friend I had worked with in another nuthouse recommended me. I met with the MD – one of the most corpulent land mammals I have ever circumnavigated. I noted that his fingers had grown so fat around his wedding ring that only a fire crew could possibly remove it. I also met with the owner of the ‘international group of companies’ a tall pale worried looking man with beady eyes and an odd inverted smile, a sort Beaker from the Muppets crossed with Vlad the Impaler but with a distinctly more malicious slant. When my wife asked after the interview, I described his demeanour as that of an aristocratic vampire. I had my doubts about the whole thing.

Never the less they looked at my folio, loved my work and apparently raved about me the following day to my mate. All seemed well. Our next meeting was when they offered me the job of Creative Director, not in the UK but Dubai with a nice tax-free salary and relocation package. A thrilling development you might think. At that point I had never set foot outside of Europe never mind far-flung, exotic Arabia. So they offered to fly us over for a look around and time some to make up our minds. When we arrived they put us up in an impressive 5 star serviced apartment, whisked us around all the supposed glitz of Dubai – it’s hard not to see things as nothing more than a haphazard building site on a steroidal scale. But the beach club and the spacious apartments and all the other shiny things they dangled in front of us sadly had us mesmerised. We were whirled round for a week and shown all the good bits I guess. We’re not greedy people my wife and I, we have a modest wee home in Scotland, I had a little sports car that I loved and we had a VW Golf for sensible purposes like moving our little boy around to and from the nursery he loved and doing the shopping. To be fair we have never been good with money – I’ve always been paid reasonably well but we had no savings or pension and were fast approaching 40. Dubai seemed like a chance to enjoy a warmer clime and maybe squirrel a bit away. Seemed like fun too… what’s to lose we thought.

So we discussed things, got excited and I quit my job and moved out leaving my wife to tart up our wee house with a view to selling it and getting a place in Dubai – not in the hope of making a killing on the property market but partly because we wanted to put down some roots there and more so because the rents are just crazy – 30 grand a year for a modest two bedroom apartment.

After a few weeks in my new job it became clear they had an entirely ruthless if not heartless employment policy “one in one out” they would sneer at management meetings. It turned out my predecessor had been lured in, moved his family from the USA sold his house and set about his new job. For three months it was his new job. Then they sacked him, gave him one week’s pay and basically told him to get lost, this was a week or so before I arrived, I had no idea at that point it was to make way for me I thought he was just a member of staff that was not performing and knew little about it. For the first six months I was busy, doing well, winning pitches and whipping my small department into shape. I loved the sunshine, the heat and all the strange and exotic people. But the stories of hiring and dumping people continued – get another job you might say. Not that easy in Dubai, aside from complicated visa issues I looked more closely at my contract. It seemed I would have to pay back all flights freight and allowances if I left before the first year. Allowances made up nearly a third of my total pay. This is a hangover from when companies were expected to house expats – then the market went stupid so the law was simply changed so that an inadequate amount of money could be offered as an ‘allowance’ to rent a place… neat and tidy, but then things are always made neat and tidy for employers in Dubai – they even manipulate public holidays to fall on weekends. Oh and if you take a couple of weeks off the weekends come out of your holiday allowance too… yeah, I know!

Back home my wife was struggling with builders and a spectacularly effete man who claimed to be both married (to a woman who looked suspiciously old enough to be his mother) and a 'professional interior designer' but in reality was simply the worlds least handyman, cack-handed painter and bodge it decorator and raving closet queen in my humble opinion. The items supposed to be shrouded from paint seemed to have more Apple White on them than the walls. Holes were burned in carpets – half my tools went missing or were spattered with paint or simply broken. After months of being apart for the first time in almost 20 years together my wife and I realised we were not going to sell the place. The market had crashed – this at the time seemed like a massive setback. In hindsight it is the BEST thing that ever happened to us.

Just prior to Christmas there were murmurs at a management meeting that things were not going well. The attitude was ‘fuck it if we have to get rid of some of them we will’. I was asked to draw up a list of whom I could afford to lose from my small tight knit team who I had grown to love, and whom after recent developments and their support help and encouragement, I have realised respected me greatly. Naturally this 'list' was upsetting, I didn’t want to lose anyone. We weren’t actually losing money - we had just stopped making it. The owner is loaded but miserable, every penny is a prisoner - he doesn't do cars or yachts or anything it would seem but worry about the thought of losing a few quid when he has millions. A joyless, charmless man. So I went to my boss and said “listen mate, you're just about to have my wife and child move out of our home, send all our possessions over here and rent our place out – should I be really doing this?” I was confidently assured that we needed a ‘core management team’ to run the business and not to worry at all. So I went home for Christmas, then packed everything up and came back to Dubai with my family on the in January. About a week or so later I was told not to get a flat as I was up for redundancy. They tried to cut my salary and when I refused so they whacked the rent up in the company flat to about 2k a month (which was of course illegal). The company flat is an impersonal badly furnished halfway house intended to give new recruits a chance to find their feet. In the end I was there ten miserable months.

So one day they dumped around a third of the workforce, just like that, having them sign papers on the spot while they were still shell shocked – papers that signed all their rights away. They knew one bloke had just borrowed the money to pay an entire years rent - not uncommon in Dubai. They noted he 'might be a bit pissed off'. I now know what 'callous' means

It soon became apparent Dubai is a miserable place to live. We’re simply not meant to be there – it’s a desert maintained by armies of Indian slaves to provide a thin veneer of greenery at catastrophic cost to the environment. The tax-free thing in Dubai is a smoke and mirrors piece of chicanery, a lie – everything costs a fortune. The produce in the supermarkets is generally awful and you need a licence to buy a bottle of wine from a few special shops that look like a 70’s illegal bookies from the outside. Buying pork is a laugh too - they have special back shop areas that have signs 'pork - no Muslims' you'd think they would remember that aspect of their faith - "well bugger me (actually that’s out also) if I haven’t blundered in and bought a sausage". You’ll also pay 3 times the going rate in the UK for your plonk then there is 30% municipality tax. There are stealth taxes on many things. In truth costs an utter fortune to live there. Everything requires some sort of permit and they all cost money – lots of it. It became evident that even on a decent ‘tax- free’ salary my wife was going to have to work. This was not the plan – she does not keep very well and is often in a lot of pain from which she rarely complains.

Dubai also has what is basically legalised slavery – all those Indian construction workers toiling in the 45+ heat are conned into selling their land or taking loans to pay for their transit to ‘dream jobs’ in Dubai. As soon as they arrive blinking in sunlight that makes India seem somewhat Scandinavian they are forced to sign new contracts in Arabic and their passports are taken – illegally of course. They are housed in abject sewer ridden squalor; concentration camp would not be too unfair an assessment. It then takes on average 4 years paying back loans to the construction worker supply agencies before they even start to earn money. They get paid a few dollars a day for 12-hour days 6 days a week. It is not uncommon for them to throw themselves in front of cars – if it is your car you face jail and have to pay up to 120K in ‘blood money’ to their family back home in India. Like I say truly medieval laws. If an Emirate driver hits you, and fuck me are they bad drivers – 120 mile an hour undertaking on the hard shoulder, happens every day – however its your fault regardless – basically you are not local so you shouldn’t be there so the fact you are means you caused the accident. Which of course also means jail for you.

Almost everyone in Dubai has a ‘maid’ this is in effect some poor Filipino girl with kids of her own back home she sees for maybe 3 weeks a year if she is lucky. Generally a maid is on call 24 hours a day to look after unruly fat brats. To cook, clean, shop (if they are allowed out alone, which is very unusual). They usually have tiny rooms with a bed and not much else. They are not allowed friends or relationships of any kind and are often have a poor diet and no access to phone or Internet to contact their family. One local looked appalled when she told me her maid had asked to use the computer to mail her family “I mean I give her 1 day off a month and her own shampoo” was her response. Taxi drivers are in the same boat – most work 12-hour shifts 7 days a week to send home money to families they see for a few weeks a year. As a result they are tired and cranky – they drive like nutters as they are paid by mileage not meter time.

So we lived under constant pressure for months with the ever present threat of redundancy, then on one day I was told all was well and to get a place of my own. Shortly afterwards they then moved a well meaning but very loud brash young lad into the flat from the UK. This is illegal in Dubai. You can’t share a flat in Dubai with someone who is not a blood relative – my wife could have been carted off for adultery or I could have been accused of homosexuality – both hugely illegal. The laws in Dubai are from the dark ages. So we were even further encouraged to find a place. We found a lovely little villa, which due to the property crash was now just within our reach. As I didn’t have a chequebook I asked my boss for a company cheque for the deposit and to deduct it from my salary – “no problem mate, we’re here to help”. We were so excited – our own place at last after almost a year of living either apart or in some crappy halfway house. We unpacked all our stuff that had been in storage for months (at no small cost). Aside from our TV, hi-fi, books, DVD’s furniture and all the little personal items you accrue over 20 years we also had all our little boys toys, a small mountain of them, it seemed half of the 80 odd boxes unpacked were marked ‘toys’. He hadn’t seen them for six months. Some were still wrapped as Christmas presents. He was over the moon running around with Woody from Toy Story and it seemed the entire ‘cast’ of Disney Pixar's 'Cars'. For the first time in almost a year we felt like a family together at home again. My wife bumped into the owner in the café downstairs from my office “Hi! How are you, how are you settling” in he beamed.

Two days later I was called into the boardroom “Bad news. We’re laying you off, the company is going in a different direction, we’ll pay for your freight back and your flights and give you a months notice - sign this”

My mouth went dry my throat closed over. I was thought I was going to choke. “But I have just moved into a villa – you know that you helped us! I’ve just got all our stuff out of storage” To say I was gripped with utter panic would be an understatement. I was close to tears but was too flooded with adrenalin, my fingers went numb and I started to shake. They just shrugged. “It’s a business decision, that’s it, you can leave today, we want your phone and laptop now”

I was told the decision had only been made the previous evening. UTTER BULLSHIT. It turned out they had some other person to take my place (as is their way) and that the whole moving the bloke into the flat was to force us out, the help to get our own place made it easier to dump us. You can’t just evict a family from company accommodation easily – not even in Dubai. However employment law is very erratic and staggeringly vague. To be perfectly honest there are no real binding laws – the head bloke wakes up in the morning waves his arm and there you are, a new law. As Tommy would say: “Just like that”.

So after not even ONE week in our new villa after almost a year in their crap flat and half our stuff still in boxes, except of course all our wee boys toys, and all my big boys toys – home cinema system set up, PS3, broadband and cable hooked up all that palaver. There we were having the same movers pack it all up again less than a week later. All 97 itemised boxes.

The following day I went to sign the final severance papers – I knew I was due three months compensation but did not have the money or the time to fight this through the courts. So I simply expected a month’s salary and our flights and freight home. The legal system in Dubai is patchy and disorganised to say the least, there is also a lot of ‘who you know’ going on it can take months to resolve a case and visas run out after 30 days unemployment. We have a friend who is an employment lawyer out there. It work’s like this: when you lose your job the employer is legally required to inform your bank. As soon as that happens they freeze your account and call in all loans credit cards mortgages etc. Pay us the lot right now! If you can’t its simple – you go to straight to jail. Since January 2009 over 4000 cars have been dumped at Dubai airport as a result of this policy

I was told if I wanted my money I would have to surrender our passports so the Visas could be cancelled – ‘should take around 3 days’ I was told. This is not how it is supposed to work. It’s final payment; then Visa cancelled. They gave me a cheque for the cost of the freight and said they would book one-way tickets for my wife and child but I had to stay. They told me that they would also be informing the bank immediately - which would me a major problem for me. Basically they stiffed me on my last months pay and engineered it so that I would have no choice but to run.

We got on a plane the following morning at our own cost – or should I say at our father in laws cost. When we arrived home we checked on the progress of our freight. The bastards had tried to get the cheque back so our goods would not get home. They made all sorts of threats even calling the police. Thankfully the freight company have seen this before and could see what they were up to and calmly told them - 'do what you like we have lawyers' too and cashed the cheque. Because they don't trust each other cheques are as good as cash in the UAE – they have to be, the whole system is so dodgy. But aside from the cost of few grand to return all our wordly possessions to us considering what they owe me - how this benefited them other than sheer malice remains a mystery. After a week of sheer panic and misery we were told the goods were on a boat on their way back to us.

But aside from compensation i am still I am owed a month’s salary - about 6 or 7 grand UK terms. This is a HUGE amount over here that would keep us going for a good while and get us back on our feet. In Dubai we struggled to live off that each month and pay rent. Seriously - it’s that expensive.

So here we are back ‘home’ with a few suitcases, 500 quid, camped out in a tiny room in my father in laws. We’re already at each other’s throats. The chances of me seeing my severance pay are as likely as seeing human decency in Dubai. I’ve emailed the boss and pretty much begged for my cash. It would seem silence means ‘get fucked’.

Aside from the fact I need the money to look after my family I cant get over being burned like this – particularly in such a calculated and cruel manner. I have found out they have done this to around 20 or more people in 3 years - I am good at my job. I have 16 years experience and have produced award-winning work for major brands, chances are you have seen some of it - these guys don’t have a clue so just keep changing staff in the hope it will cover up their hopeless management.

What have I learned from this? Never live in autocracy. Never visit the UAE. At any point you could be in jail. Poppy seed bagel stories may be urban legend, but a woman was jailed then deported merely on the unsubstantiated accusation of adultery by her husband just a few weeks ago. She will never see her 3 young children again. Just because her husband accused her, no evidence just his word and a few concocted emails. Read your contract. Then read it AGAIN.

I have been told the owner of the company actually enjoys sacking people – he gets a kick out of it. Apparently he has a particular tie he wears for such occasions. Given the chance I would cheerfully choke the bastard with it.

Lets say for now the company is called 'Ominous' – if some poor sod searches for their site and stumbles upon my tale then at least it might prevent more lives being ruined.

Even if we could afford to move back into our home we cant – the family that rent it are just about to have a child – I don’t have the heart to evict them.
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 16:47, 32 replies)
That's some fucking read!
Well worth it though - Click!!! Hope everything works out... I really fucking do...
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 17:09, closed)
Clicking I like this seems wrong
I'm fucking glad you all made it back to here in one piece though.
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 17:38, closed)
fuckin hell
what a tale.....sounds like a fucking nightmare

i think to preserve your sanity you simply must move back into your old house....the new occupants can find somewhere else, don't get too involved.

when all is said and done though, you must be raging you gave all that pr0n away...wipe away with the tears and the rage with a bottle of tonic wine and a cheeky wee supper!
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 17:20, closed)
cant afford to...
i think we qualify for about 140 quid benefit a week for the three of us. gordon brown aint gonna pay my mortgage.
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 17:22, closed)
Utter bastards
I had heard that Dubai was a harsh place for the Indian contract workers and Filipina maids but assumed the western ex pats got better working conditions.

Those bastards are using the law to exploit and con people and no good can come of it in the long term, very brave of you to name them.

At least you are back home and out of the shithole.

Really hope things get better for you and your family.
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 17:47, closed)
brave but unwise...
im still trying/pleading to get my money out of them so i hit [EDIT] for now... watch this space
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 17:50, closed)
Stick a link in the story
which directs to a blog page or similar, the contents of which you can edit later.

That way, when the question closes, you can still change the linked page to show this hateful company's details (and other updates) if you so wish.

I'm interested to see how it all pans out. You also might find that a national/international publication takes an interest too, as happened with my 'Expensive Mistakes' story. If nothing else, it could be a nice little money spinner to compensate you for the ordeal.
(, Wed 24 Jun 2009, 3:46, closed)
You've been keeping us up to date with events as they happen...

No matter how difficult it must have been.

You've had set backs in life and overcome them, this is just another one. A doozy, to be sure, but just another setback.

Use your talents and get a job here...where it's (relatively) safer.

At the end of the day, at least you've still got each other.

*promises to use less crap footballing cliches in future*
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 17:52, closed)
as far as I know, it's based on two things i) the content, ii) the 'value' of the site. You can't do anything about ii), so look at i). Try and put the words that people who are looking for this company will look for - obviously the name of the company, but also the industry, maybe 'Dubai', the services they offer etc.
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 18:12, closed)

Google ranks pages mainly on how the page is linked by other sites. Most other search engines also employ this method, so to increase your exposure, you need to publicise the link to this story on as many high-clickthrough websites (Digg.com, 4chan, cracked.com etc) as possible
(, Wed 24 Jun 2009, 4:00, closed)
Fucking hell, matey
That's rough - no-one deserves to be put through that shit.

As Becky said above, it feels wrong clicking 'I like this!', but if getting it up the Best Of page stops one person having to go through any of that...

*clicks damn hard*
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 18:57, closed)
If things seem too good to be true...
...it's a sad fact they often are.

That's one of the most rage-inducing tales I've ever heard! I mean I've heard some really shitty stuff about working in Dubai but that takes the absolute biscuit. I really hope that you see some sort of recompense from that crowd of arseholes, but since you sound like a really nice bloke I figure that it's not going to happen.

I don't like your story, I hate it - but you get a click cause you certainly deserve it!
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 19:56, closed)
Sorry to hear this : (

(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 21:11, closed)
Christ on a bike.
That's just plain evil. Hope it all works out for you and yours.
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 21:15, closed)
Glad to hear you made it out in one piece.
I have too many stories about dealing with that fucking attitude out there, you've got my utmost admiration for still being able to come through all of that and still 'do the right thing'. I really hope the place fucking implodes, it's an absolute hell hole built on corruption and greed.
(, Mon 22 Jun 2009, 21:25, closed)
Hi Spimf

I'm sorry to read that below: you've certainly been through the ringer and the boss of that place seems to be a major psychopathic fuckwad.

Whilst the courts in Dubai are pro-national would it be possible to sue them in the UK courts and then, having a judgment, seek to have this enforced against their assets in Dubai?
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 10:13, closed)
I'm Annoyed
Gaz me the name of the company when you can please.

I feel creative. I'm going to make them famous.


Edit: Don't bother. Found them.

*rubs hands*
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 10:15, closed)
just been to the Omnia website
They are hiring.

Dont think i'll bother. I'm perfectly capable of ruining my own life thankyouverymuch.
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 12:19, closed)
Fuck me
what a bunch of cheesy toss wanks. Have a click, not cos I like it, but because shit like this needs to be told. Maybe some other poor bastard might read it and dodge a bullet as a result.
Hope you get back on track soon.
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 12:35, closed)
Fuck, that's made me angry
I hope those cunts get imprisoned over there. Very much doubt it'd happen, they sound like the type to be able to weasel/bribe their way out, but some prison justice would go some way to re-balancing karma.
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 12:48, closed)
Appalling story.
Sorry to hear such a tale of abusive employment.
You will survive and be stronger for it.
Look at this way - would you rather be an Indian construction worker? What if your wife were a Fillipino maid?
And you have a home here, in a democratic country with enforceable laws. After reading your story there must be many cynical Betans looking at live in the UK and wondering what - in comparison - we really have to whine about.
Your luck will change, and very soon I hope.
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 12:55, closed)
Gaz me
Might be able to put some freelance creative work your way
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 13:04, closed)
very insightful
a great read, very informative and well written. obviously not great to hear what you and you're family have been through though, hope you get yourselves sorted. even though i doubt i'd would ever have moved to the UAE anyway, i certainly won't be now.
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 13:37, closed)
From their website
The [COUGH COUGH] spirit underpins its service ethic, brings innovation to the fore, creates value for its customers and ensures integrity in all that it does.

What a bunch of cunts. Anything you need, Gaz me!
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 14:30, closed)
What a tale. Glad you are calm enough about it all to be able to tell it, it must have been seriously stressful. Take some deep breaths, tell your Mrs you love her, and try to move on. What goes around comes around, maybe your former boss will find himself in a nice Dubai jail for his association with that "Burkha Bukkake Babes" website I hope someone is working on tying him into as we speak.......
(, Tue 23 Jun 2009, 20:16, closed)
As an expat in an entirely different country, I've heard nothing but good things about Dubai. Glad I won't ever be thinking about living there now.
(, Wed 24 Jun 2009, 2:54, closed)
When you get back on your feet
take legal advice, then take those bastards to the cleaners. I have a well-connected friend in Dubai who may be able to help you. When I get some more info, I'll gaz you the details.

That was one hell of a read spimfy. The *click* is firmly for publicity purposes. I was considering Dubai myself, but now I think I'll look elsewhere.
(, Wed 24 Jun 2009, 3:30, closed)
That was
basically a novel!

Good read, really interesting, but frankly not much fun - though considerably better than actually experiencing it no doubt.

I hope it comes through for you spimf, the whole thing sounds truly sickening.
(, Wed 24 Jun 2009, 12:57, closed)
this post seems to be be utterly google invisible
wasn't yesterday, suggestions?
(, Wed 24 Jun 2009, 18:39, closed)
I told you he needed some interwebs love
and most of what I got was people telling me to fuck off, that I was taking the internets too seriously and not to be personal about other people's lives.

At least Mr Spimf knows he's always got hugs and love (and naughty pics if he's lucky) from me.


(, Thu 25 Jun 2009, 4:52, closed)
's a bit heavy...
(, Thu 25 Jun 2009, 11:56, closed)
Hope you pull through ok. Have clicked but it felt wrong.

*man hugs
(, Thu 25 Jun 2009, 10:10, closed)

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