Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hot potato!

Long-time expats in the kingdom have got used to periodic rhetorics by various officials about how "billions of riyals are being drained out" of the kingdom by the expatriate work force. Expats have long taken such laments with a pinch of salt. The latest one is no different, just that it comes from one of the kingdom's top officials.

The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), is a conglomoerate of the various Chambers of Commerce across Saudi Arabia. Whether any of these individual chambers do any good other than minting money by attesting documents of expatriates, is another question. Taking a hint from these chambers, other bodies like Saudi Engineering Council have also started doing likewise, and have even gone to the extent of preventing Iqamas from being renewed unless they attest the documents.

The chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers has now formed a committee. Nothing new about this except that it has been formed "to monitor...Asian countries which continually attempt to increase the minimum wages of their workers". This has been picked up by the local press with a screaming headline "KSA taking steps to rein in Asian wages" (click here).

How much  more ridiculous can one get? He continuous his tirade against Asian countries accusing them of "systematically raising the salary of unskilled workers to SR1500 a month". The height of paranoia is when he says "these countries have been meeting to unify their stance against Saudi Arabia vis-a-vis workers' salaries since 2003". It is another matter that none of these countries have ever met on this issue, but now that he has mentioned, it seems to be a great idea isn't it?

First, this guy needs to be asked a few questions. How many times since 2003 has he got a salary raise? How many unskilled workers have salaries more than even SR1000? And what percentage of an average Saudi's salary is SR1500 for a worker who slogs all seven days a week without rest, with no fixed working hours and no vacation for more than 3 years. Worse, how many of these Asian workers, whom he targets, ever get paid? How many of them face physical abuses from their employers?

So sickening is the attitude of such people here who live in their own world, that they are oblivious to what is even going on around them. Mr. Chairman, please do an urgent reality check. The Ministry of Labor, to whom you will be submitting your grand report, has already signed Memorandums with the very same Asian countries you are lamenting about, agreeing to their conditions.

The days of oil boom are long over. No one is waiting in a queue to get into the kingdom. There is an acute shortage of labor and several projects have been stalled simply because no one simply wants to come into Saudi Arabia. There is unemployment in the kingdom, not because there are lack of jobs but because the youth in this country do not want to get their hands dirty. Afterall, they were born to be Mudheers, right? The net result is that this society requires expats to cater to their own children, to wash their dishes, to clean their houses, to iron their clothes, to cut their hair, to remove the garbage from the bins and to repair their shoes. But do not want to pay them. They are also so scared that they would run away which is why they seize their passports. Does this country belong to this century at all?

Rhetoric talks is one thing, but taking it too far, too many times, will have just the reverse effect. Haven't you heard what a hot potato does when you keep it in your hands for long?



 

9 comments:

Tom Patterson said...

Awesome post.

MM said...

Well said

Anonymous said...

Excellent post ....... Excellent work in general ....... Please do continue to make expats aware of the Saudi reality. Also do keep it unbiased.
Just One thing ...... the Saudis do not have the concept of freedom of expression, equality or humanity (their prophet did preach them about those things but guess they are too dumb to understand or follow ...... my point is take care as you are definitely being watched !!!

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your kind sentiments. This blog is meant for the expats, of the expats and by an expat. It is meant to cover their interests and the intention of this site is to help fellow-expats, not to indulge in Saudi-bashing. This blog is close to 1.4 million visitors and I guess the reason for that is the unbiased and fair blogging.

Anonymous said...

Great article n blog!
Could you also shed some light on any help i could get in dealing with my ex-landlord who is threatening to go to police if i dont pay up the remaining amount of my yearly contract (even though it was mutually agreed that I could shift elsewhere while 3 months were left on it) and now that i have fully shifted, he wants the remaining rent!

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email.

Anonymous said...

You are just a hater! that's it

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

That's your opinion. Just as you have a right of opinion, I too have one. Which was why I published yours as well as mine.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog and just found it tonight. What a breath of fresh air after my first year here! Thanks again