Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'll Be Home For Christmas (or Thanksgiving)?

Nearly a month ago, I wrote a post detailing the massive problems my employer Nova is facing and the possibility that my husband and I might be returning to the United States earlier than expected. Well, nothing has changed and if fact the situation is even worse. I am fairly confident that we'll be back in the States next month.

Last month teacher trainers, teachers outside greater Tokyo/Osaka and Japanese staff members were paid, at minimum, 10 days late. After everyone was finally paid the CEO sent a fax saying the dark clouds were finally lifting, that there would be no salary concerns in October and that everyone should concentrate on business as usual.

Flash forward to October. Surprise, surprise there ARE salary concerns. Big ones. With the exception of a few Japanese part-timers, Nova has been unable to pay anyone. That's thousands of people, from foreign instructors and central personnel to Japanese staff members. The Japanese staff was supposed to be paid on September 27th, foreign instructors on October 15th. Everyone is now "scheduled" to be paid on Friday, October 19th. I have no idea how a company that is unable to pay rent and garbage bills at some branches is going to find such a massive amount of money in four days. And then Japanese staff is due to be paid again on October 27th, eight days later!

Almost no one expects to be paid on Friday, and when they aren't a ridiculous amount of instructors will call in sick and/or resign. A huge number of instructors and top executive types resigned after the last salary fiasco and even more are bailing now. In September my branch had seven teachers and now we only have three which is not enough to cover the demand. There isn't even the hope of bringing in fresh meat. The Australian consulate announced that Nova is going under and urged Australians to make contingency plans. A Nova recruiting agency in America told new recruits they could no longer secure housing and urged them to delay their departure until at least December. An Australian agency that has recruited for Nova for years refuses to do so anymore. Meanwhile, instructors all over the country are getting eviction notices because Nova took money from their paychecks but didn't pass it on to the landlords. I can't imagine a more dismal situation.

Nova has made some kind of strange, seemingly shady deal with a couple of offshore companies that I don't understand enough to explain, but it's of little comfort to most employees. The guy who was assumed to have made the deal for Nova has recently been arrested for stock fraud. Even if the deal did result in a significant cash injection, the earliest this injection could arrive would be October 25th and I think it may be too late for Nova by then. Seeing as more and more people are being paid late each month, despite company promises to the contrary, I think most teachers will find another job or go home. My husband and I certainly can't afford to stay in Japan without regular paychecks. Last month, we transferred a bunch of money home to pay off my credit card and to pay for our upcoming Thailand vacation and I now have literally 578 yen to my name. Seriously. We'll be living off our American funds until our next check, assuming it ever arrives. I have my doubts.

Sadly, many students seem completely unaware of the dire situation and my branch even had a sales visitor the other day. We're technically forbidden from saying anything, but I feel obligated to be honest with students if they ask. I haven't discussed it in class or anything, though I sometimes feel I should. They stand to lose hundreds, if not thousands of dollars if/when Nova goes under.

My husband and I plan to go into work on Thursday and Friday, but if we're not paid on Friday I doubt we'll work on the weekend. I feel guilty because that means the staff will have to cancel several classes and spend all day apologizing, especially as there is the possibility that no teachers will show up at my branch, but I am not comfortable working for one month's check when I haven't even been paid for the last and there is a real possibility I won't ever see another yen. That and my train pass has expired, I haven't been reimbursed for last month's pass, I don't have the money to renew it and I don't want to pay 600 yen a day to get to work and back.

If you were me would you go?


Anonymous said...

The crazy American in me says "Hell no! f*ck those B*tches and HELLO where is my money!" The nice person says go at lest 2 more days and if you are close you any of your students tell them you will not be seeing them anymore and leave.

Anonymous said...

sorry I forgot to re-read that..I meant to say if you are close to any of your students and wish to tell them of the sistuation, then do so.

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

What an awful situation to be in! A guy I work with said that you may want to check out the unemployment pay situation. If Nova folds, you may be eligible for money, but wouldn't be if you quit.

Having said that, personally, I wouldn't go in on the weekend if I hadn't been paid. I would ring in "sick" or even call and be honest and say that as you haven't been paid, you honestly don't have the money to pay for your train fare to get into work.

I agree with Veronica and if I was close to any of my students, I would tell them.

My heart goes out to you and my fingers are crossed for you that you get paid today.

Contamination said...

Great post, I've written about it here: Nova Bankrupt: A Blogs Eye View