Poor handling of labor issues


By Hala Al-Qahtani


WHEN you see a miserable person walking in front of you on the other side of the road, never think he will notice that your eyes follow him but he will try to hide himself and his woes so as not to hurt your eyes. If you look at him with the intent of opening an outlet for assistance, then it’s better you extend help without humiliating him and without finding entertainment in his woes.

In order to help others you don’t need anything other than becoming more human and extend your assistance with kindness without hurting the beneficiaries’ feelings.

In a previous article I have written the painful story of a Saudi woman employee who was terminated from service in a moment, giving the reason of falling oil prices during the past two years. She was working in a leading company in the Eastern Province. The HR manager, however, told her that she would be able to apply for job in the same company after 18 months.

When she applied for job after that period, the manager ignored her application and transferred her case to a foreign female officer, who also did not give any positive response. The jobless condition has increased her debts and deteriorated her condition as she does not own a house.

In response to that article I received three messages — two from men and one from a woman. The first man said he does not have any authority to take her back in the company and that he can only help her find a job outside. The second man wanted to stand by her and provide her with financial assistance. The woman, who is studying abroad, said she would have helped her if she was in the Kingdom.

These messages reflect the kindness of people and their desire to help others even in this modern world when most people support only the wealthy and influential and ignore the needy and oppressed. It also shows that goodness is still present in this materialistic world.

I had also received a call from the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, which made me feel hopeful and optimistic. But it seems that when its officials decided to solve the problem, it was obstructed by bureaucracy, which does not augur well in this period of transformation. In fact, bureaucratic hurdles have degraded the ministry to what it was in 1980s.

On the first day after the positive response of the ministry official and transferring the issue to official channels in the Eastern Province, two individuals contacted me from the labor office, one of them wanting to know where the company was located and the other asked her whether the company belonged to Dammam or Al-Khobar office of the labor office.

On the second day, the fired woman received tens of calls from female officials of the ministry. The HR official asked the woman to redraft her CV and present it to them. Another female official asked her to visit Taqat office. When visited a third official asked her to revise her CV making some changes. She had to go through long procedures to get a job.

It seems the HR manager had not gone through the woman’s CV and asked her to attend a workshop. In fact, being a well-experienced woman she does not require any workshops or training.

Unfortunately, the majority of female employees at the ministry overlooked the point that the woman does not have money to present her case to Taqat and Human Resources Fund in a traditional way. At the same time, any employee can complete these procedures using his/her phone.

The bureaucracy has hit hard the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and I believe that it’s still waiting for a cure to solve it. This issue is enough for me to understand why the ministry was still unable to solve the problem of Saudi workers terminated on the basis of Article 77.

The question is does the ministry have clear written procedures to deal with such cases or is it applying just narcotic needles on victims to quell their protests, without finding any permanent solution. I have noticed that there is something wrong in dealing with the issue.

Before concluding this article I would like to ask the ministry some questions. How does the ministry know whether its services are offered in high or low quality? How do you assess the performance of your employees? Do they have detailed written procedures to deal with each case? Is there a specific time-frame in the ministry to resolve each case?

How can the ministry develop its services if the monitoring agencies do not have necessary tools to make assessment of its performance? Most importantly, when does the morning duty starts at the ministry’s branch in the Eastern Province at 8 or 11?