Saturday 30 January 2010

Grundy on Grindy

HKSARblog had to do a double take when reading a letter in the SCMP about Native English Teachers or NETs. At first glance, it appeared the letter writer was responding to his own letter. In actual fact, it is a Tom Grundy responding to a letter from a Tom Grindy.

Grundy makes a good point in support of the “special allowance” provided by the Education Bureau to NETs, although there is no evidence that there will be a “mass exodus” should this allowance be reduced.

Teachers' pay is reasonable
Jan 29, 2010

I refer to the letter by Tom Grindy ("Allowance for which home?", January 27). Mr Grindy appears unaware that native English-speaking teachers are on the same salary scale as our local colleagues.

The additional Education Bureau "special allowance" compensates for the extra costs - financial and otherwise - that the vast majority of expatriate educators face. Meanwhile, local teachers benefit from job security and pension plans.

NETs have a unique and highly valued role in Hong Kong schools and the wage and benefits they receive are not only fair but necessary in order to attract and retain teachers from abroad. Furthermore, the bureau has a surplus and recently handed some of its budget back to the government. Were the allowance scaled down, the NET scheme would likely collapse under a mass exodus.

Tom Grundy, Jordan


  1. The letter reads like a schizophrenic exchange, as someone had maliciously posed as the writer to make a contentious point.

    There would certainly be a mass return of NETs to their home countries, as cutting the special allowance would bring wage packets down to a level comparable - or smaller than - what they can earn back home.

  2. That’a an interesting point Anonymous. Perhaps there will be further letters from Tom Grandy, Tom Grendy and Tom Grondy too? :)

    Rationally, I am not sure why some people claim there will be a mass exodus although it is possible some NETs will leave, plus future NET intake numbers will be affected. This is because even with the wages “equalized” between Hong Kong and other countries, current NETs are able to consider other factors that may or may not persuade them to leave Hong Kong. For example, work hours, work load, tax rates, career opportunities, geographic location, environment, lifestyle, relationship prospects, etc.

    The claim that “cutting the special allowance” is the main factor that will trigger a mass exodus of NETs is wrong. This is supported by evidence shown in other industries where “localization” has occurred. Yes, some people who were on expatriate packages have left (not a mass exodus though), but also some have remained in Hong Kong. And foreigners continue to consider Hong Kong as a working location. No mass exodus.

    The SCMP frequently publishes letters that are clearly irrational, illogical and often irritating. Yes, people’s opinions may matter … but not at the expense of facts and good evidence.