Double Standards?!

There’s a piece in the Gulf News today, titled – National women complain of discrimination at workplace

Not sure how many of you’ve read it, its basically about 3 ‘national’ ladies complaining to the Labour Ministry about the working conditions at a bank. Apparently they’re a little pissed off after being ‘made to enter data’ despite their degrees and qualifications, having funds deducted from their salaries for the earthquake relief without being informed prior, not being paid for unauthorised days off, having to ‘sometimes’ work extra hours without pay, and having only a 1-day weekend, among other issues.

They feel they’re being ‘forced out’. Now.. why would that be?

Although all their concerns are valid, and I’d be pissed off too if I had to face any of those problems at work, its a bit sad that the Labour Ministry chooses to turn the other way when its expats who face these problems.

Perhaps one of the reasons private businesses aren’t too keen on employing nationals is that a) they’re a very pampered breed. When you can get an indian MBA to sell credit cards out in the sun all day for a measly AED 3,000, often having to work extra hours and weekends, why would you employ someone whom you’re gonna have to pay 2 to 3 times that salary and then treat them in a professional and humane manner?

The Labour Ministry needs to sort themselves out and stop turning a blind eye when employers treat their expat staff like dirt.

The bank involved, says that she (Sofia) was warned several times about her conduct and when she failed to respond, the bank deducted stopped paying her for unauthorized days off. When the bank took disciplinary action, our friend Sofia called the police, which is fair enough, as you cannot detain someone in the reception area of the office against their will. However, if Sofia was, lets say, from Mumbai or Manila, would ANY action have been taken by the authorities? Looking over what happens everyday in these parts, the answer will have to be a firm ‘NO’.

Expat employees, majority of them are treated more like slaves than employees. Passports are held by the employers, yes can you believe that? Passports are held by the HR dept when you join a company, thereby binding you to work with whatever conditions they subject you to – which may include late payment of salaries, extra hours, no days off, working weekends etc. (Recently there was the much publicised case of a construction company that hadn’t paid its employees for 6 months, although for every publicised and solved issue, there are countless others that are ignored). If you wanted to leave and your employer won’t hand you your passport, you cannot get a new one from your embassy (citing loss/theft) unless your employer allows you to do so, which brings you back to square one. Oh and if you were pissed off with the way your emloyer’s been treating you and wish to move to a different company, you could get banned from the country for between 6 months to 1 year.

Not exactly all rosy is it?

Things are getting better though. You won’t hear of most of the above problems if you’re working for multinational firms, its usually the medium-small sized firms who are an issue. A change of attitudes is required by the authorities, laws need to made that favour the workers, cuz afterall, a happy and satisfied worker is your guarantee to better productivity.

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