A Leicestershire English teacher’s commitment to his Thai students may cost him his life after falling ill in Bangkok, Thailand and then finding his employer, a private Bangkok university, hadn’t made the obligatory contributions it had been deducting from his salary to the country’s Social Welfare Fund, which guarantees medical cover for all legally employed staff.
After five years teaching at Apex Works in Leicestershire, Gareth Davies from the village of Glennfield, set off to pursue his desire of teaching English as a second language in Thailand.
About nine months ago the Leicestershire English teacher accepted an appointment to the department of English language for communications at Kasem Bundit University, one of Thailand’s numerous private universities, to teach English major to undergraduate students.
Though the monthly salary of Bt30,000 (£617 / $US977) was far from extravagant by Bangkok standards, the 47-year-old Leicestershire English teacher was happy pursuing his goal, even though his employer made him pay the cost of obtaining his own work permit and visa extension.
About one year ago Thai doctors pieced together a wide range of auto-immune-type ailments that had been plaguing Mr Davies for many years and which numerous UK GPS had failed to identify, determining he was suffering from Sclederodema (Systemic Sclerosis) or CREST Syndrome, a connective tissue disease that involves changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs.
In the wake of an emergency hospital admission towards the end of January the Leicestershire English teacher announced in an eMail to friends and colleagues titled “what is wrong with me”, that his “heart, kidney, and lungs are also being affected”.
Leicestershire English teacher’s dedication his downfall
With the Thailand university academic year due to conclude at the end of this month, Mr Davies told friends he hoped to finish his contract in Bangkok and guide his students through their exams, mark final exam papers, and then return to the UK for the high level care he will need.
The Leicestershire English teacher’s commitment to his work has proved to be his downfall however and on March the second he was rushed from the university unconscious and unable to breath to a private hospital ICU ward.
If was then that the nightmare began in earnest for Mr. Davies.
Thailand labour law is extremely extensive and provides the minimum employment conditions for all employees, including the mandatory contribution to the country’s Social Welfare Fund. Likewise the Thailand Social Security Act contains detailed descriptions of what safety net is provided to employees.
It was only after several days in ICU and after Mr Davies’ brother Mick flew to Bangkok, that problems with the Leicestershire English teacher’s social fund coverage became apparent.
According to Mick Davies, the Bangkok hospital where his brother was first taken provided excellent care, but a few weeks of hospitalization saw the bill sky-rocket to more than Bt250,000 (£5,000 / $US 8,000).
“I was told by the university that Gareth had no Social Welfare Fund cover because he had not been employed for more than a year, though the Thailand Social Security Act says says everyone is covered from the day they start work, or receive their work permit”, Mick said.
Mick said the Leicestershire English teacher’s students quickly rallied around him and raised more than Bt80,000 (£1.640 / $US2,600), with more than Bt27,000 (£555 / $US880 being raised by the Chair for the department of English communications at Kasem Bundit University, Ajarn Nuchamon James. ( Continues … )
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