Friday, March 20, 2015

How Minister of Labor changed the world for Expats in 5 Years

The Affairs of Labour are the responsibility of the Saudi Ministry of Labour. They also organise these affairs into the ministries and government public interest in Saudi Arabia. Adel bin Muhammad Fakieh, the former minister of labour is a Saudi Arabian engineer. Since 18 august 2010 till April 2015 he had been the Minister of Labour. He has also served as the minister of health between the time period 21 April 2014 and 8 December 2014. He has worked in both private as well as public sector. The minister of labour, Al Fakieh, is an educated and experienced man. Maha Fitaihi, Fakeih’s wife, is a social figure and a leading businesswoman as well. She speaks English fluently.

The decision made by Adel Fakieh to increase the annual fees to SR 2,400/- paid on every foreign worker caused uproar everywhere. After the announcement of this decision, businessmen were filled with anger, government agencies reacted in a determined way. This one decision made the businessmen believe that this decision might force them to shut down their businesses. The aggressiveness of people’s reaction caused the ministry officials to wait for a few more days. They decided to directly communicate with the people and explain themselves. This was the new approach they decided to adopt. The ministers themselves held these meetings that were conducted in Riyadh and Jeddah. In the meetings, they explained their decision and discussed it.

This new rule was enacted with the purpose to reduce unemployment among Saudi nationals by getting them into the jobs now performed by expatriates in the Kingdom. Not all the businessmen disagreed with this decision; some also believed that this was important to achieve the long term goal of increasing Saudi employees in every company of the Kingdom. Some businessmen found this decision difficult to comply with. A businessman who owns a transport company said he found the decision unable to follow since it was difficult for him to find Saudi drivers.

The Hafiz program was launched in 2011 which pays unemployed Saudis SR 2000 per month. This program was announced by King Abdullah. More than a million Saudis were receiving this unemployment benefit in 2012. Wages in private sector are much lower than in government sector therefore some Saudis believe they are better off on unemployment benefit. The biggest group of foreign workers are from Pakistan, India, Philippines and Bangladesh who work as Construction laborers, cleaners, and other hard-core jobs. A business man was reported saying that he had never come across a Saudi willing to work as a laborer.

Changes in business practices are necessary to build new business models and attractive jobs for the Saudis to work as. Changes are never easy and progress is impossible without a change. People disagree at first but then get used to it later on. And a little bit of struggles can result in better progress. Change is all about taking new risk new decisions which will be fruitful in the long run for the betterment of the Saudi nationals and also for a better economy which in turn will result in an efficient labour market.


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