Qatar Kerfuffle

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A CNA contact talks about controversy

The College of the North Atlantic is making headlines about low morale and apparent harassment of employees at its campus in Qatar (right, CBC photo). CBC News has obtained a copy of an internal and confidential employee survey which describes a host of programs at the college, which has a contract with the Qatari government. A lot of respondents to the survey complained about the college management, describing the atmosphere there as a toxic. I got in touch with several contacts who work at the Qatar campus, and one of them was quite willing to talk anonymously about conditions there. Ive only heard what was reported in the media secondhand, but off the record it sounds like the media reports are understating the situation, my contact said. The campus here is a bit of a train wreck. Im really surprised that it is even still affiliated with the College at home. I'm also surprised that so many of the programs here have been accredited. given accreditation means they are on par with their NL counterparts. I personally havent had any real problems. Im lucky in that our Department has had really great leaders ... Sadly others have had some pretty hellish experiences. Human Resources here and in NL is a joke. I suppose it isnt a surprise given how quickly the College has grown, and also the constant turnover. The College here seems to operate as a private enterprise. Half the leadership team and staff are like residents of la la-land. On the whole morale is pretty low. I recently overheard a conversation between two instructors who were planning to leave and were trying to figure out the best way to screw the College. The theme of that conversation isn't unique! Ultimately the pair decided they would pretend to go away for the weekend and just not come back not sure if they actually went ahead with the plan. A lot of the morale issues are self-induced. People here seem to complain more. Perhaps it is the whole the more you have, the more you want thing. While much of the complaining is justified, and the College doesnt seem to be addressing many grievances, I personally think a large part of the problem is that people signed up for something they werent prepared for. Living in a foreign country isnt easy, and working for a young organization that clearly doesnt plan strategically is difficult. Many employees here also seem to have come from a unionized background - this place is completely at odds with union values. All that said, the funny thing is that the people who complain the most are often the very people who are requesting contract extensions. Ive purposefully attempted to stay away from the rumour mill around here, so most of what Ive heard is second hand and Im not sure how accurate it is. That said a couple of things that Ive heard: An employee with four children was told that the College would arrange for registration in a local school (of western standards) for their children. When they arrived there was no room for their children in the western school and the wife was forced to home-school at least two of the children for close to a year. An employee was moved into an apartment that was infested with mould (workmanship here is absolutely not on par with western standards). When she complained to HR she was essentially told to stop complaining as the accommodations are free. And those who would accuse me of hypocrisy, for allowing an anonymous comment here whilst complaining about anonymous calls to Open Line, are missing the point. The fact is, I still dont allow anonymous comments in my blog unless the person has a good reason for withholding their name. In this case, my contact would likely be fired if they went public, which is a valid reason for anonymity.

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