Published on December 1, 2016
1. "Bread without Butter": Private sector - Never again!
2. Time has come to empty my brain from what has affected my career and my life in general. There are many reasons why I write articles. This article is one of the main reasons why I am pushed to write articles and to share them with the general public. I am still hoping that positive changes shall take place and soon in the GCC region. This shall be one of the most difficult articles to write. It shall revolve around justice and human rights much more than anything else. The difficulty shall come from making a fair judgement and from making a fair comparison at the same time. If anyone asks me: would you like to work for the Private sector once again? My answer shall be: never again!
3. I have only recently discovered that justice runs through my veins and I believe that I have inherited this from my grandfather who was Chief of Judges. I shall by this article do my best to point out why I regret not having worked for the Public sector. At a certain stage in my life, I was offered a very good job in the Public sector but I preferred continuing my experience in a sector that I was familiar with. In fact, that was the biggest mistake of my life as later on in my career I have discovered that after many years in the Private sector I was note at all familiar with this sector. I have written many articles concerning my experience in the Private sector and anyone who cares to know more could read them on my LinkedIn profile (posts section). It is to be noted that the Public sector in the GCC region employs both GCC nationals and expats (examples include: Teachers, Doctors, Nurses, Government staff and more). What makes the Public sector so great in the GCC region? Here is the answer: 1) Public sector employees (nationals and expats) enjoy better laws and better protection mechanisms (as dictated by Cabinet decrees or Ministerial decrees or as per the existing GCC Government laws). Private sector employees (nationals and expats) abide by a primitive Labor Law that is unjust and unfair and that lacks protection mechanisms (for GCC nationals and for expats). 2) Public sector employees (mainly expats since GCC nationals do not require sponsorship) are sponsored by the GCC Governments. Private sector employees (mainly expats) are obliged to accept a primitive sponsorship system (called Kafala in Arabic) which has been compared in many instances to modern day slavery (I believe that GCC Governments should sponsor all employees of the Public and Private sector. This is only fair and just. The relationship of any Private sector employee with any Employer should be the Employment visa. No
4. more and no less. What defines the rights and obligations of both parties is the Labor Law. No more and no less). 3) Public sector employees (mainly expats) do not pay any recruitment fees. All workers (laborers) that work for Municipalities or for any Government entities are offered decent transportation (buses with air-conditioning) and decent housing or decent accommodations. Private sector employees (mainly expats) including many categories of staff and all laborers (mainly constructions laborers, farmers, landscaping laborers and more) pay recruitment fees (laborers pay more than 3500 USD to get employed). Laborers that work for the Private sector are offered poor transportation (buses without air-conditioning) and poor labor camps (in many instances). 4) Public sector employees (nationals and expats) are not asked to have their passports confiscated. Private sector employees (mainly expats and in some cases GCC nationals) are obliged to accept the confiscation of their passports (I was once asked to hand over my Saudi Arabian passport but I refused to have it confiscated. My reaction wasn’t appreciated by the top management). 5) Public sector employees (nationals and expats) get their salaries paid on time. Private sector employees (nationals and expats) have to struggle to get paid on time (even with the wage protection system that is in place). 6) Public sector employees (nationals and expats) are trained and developed by the GCC Governments. Private sector employees (nationals and expats) are forgotten in the strict majority of the instances and are denied such rights.
5. 7) Public sector employees (mainly nationals) are offered a healthy career growth and are appreciated for their efforts (nationals and expats) by being awarded with increments, trophies, amazing benefits, by being promoted based on merit and much more. Private sector employees (nationals and expats) must really struggle to be appreciated if appreciated. Growth is based on sweat and in many cases the sweat is dried by a tissue paper and thrown in the garbage can. 8) Public sector employees have a perfect job security (100 % guaranteed for GCC nationals but not for expats) Private sector employees (GCC nationals and expats) can get terminated or laid-off at any given time and this for any reason (there is never any investigation that is conducted by any GCC Government Department to justify if the termination or the lay-off was justified or not). 9) Public sector employees (nationals and expats) enjoy very relaxed working hours. Government employees usually work a maximum of 6 to 7 hours a day. This includes less working hours during the month of Ramadan as well. Also, all Public sector employees enjoy a two days weekend. Private sector employees (nationals and expats) work more than 8 hours a day. In many cases, Private sector employees work 10 to 12 hours a day but this mainly depends on the industry. Most Private sector employees (mostly construction staff, factory staff and laborers) enjoy a one day weekend. 10) Public sector employees (nationals and expats) enjoy many more days of holiday a year than the Private Sector employees (this usually depends on the mood of the GCC Governments so it is difficult to mention the exact details. Roughly speaking, all Public sector employees get around 15 days more holidays a year than the Private sector employees). 11) Public sector employees (nationals and expats) enjoy better laws. In some GCC countries, a Maternity Law was introduced giving Government female employees three months maternity leave and breastfeeding rights.
6. Private sector female employees (GCC national and expats) have not enjoyed being included in the Maternity Law hence do not have such rights. The Labor Law was careless to be fair and just for all women (at least in the countries where such a Law has been approved). The justice scale is shaking… A SMART Government is the one that has a single Maternity Law for all women. It is the one that treats all citizens equally when it comes to any law. Public sector employees are no better than Private sector employees in the eyes of justice. Laws should never be split into categories and should never discriminate (talk about Human Rights, the Tolerance Law, Gender Equality Law and the Anti- Discrimination Law! How did they all fail here?). What about the signed treaties with the United Nations Organization and the Human Rights Organization? Some GCC Governments allow Public sector employees (nationals and expats) to arrive late to work in case of bad weather (heavy fog, heavy rain, heavy wind etc.) and this in order to avoid speeding to work hence causing road accidents but the Labor Law doesn't have any clause on the same for the Private sector. 12) Public sector employees enjoy 100 % guaranteed Social Security and Pension Plans (I believe that this is valid for GCC nationals only). Private sector employees are not protected whatsoever (GCC nationals are entitled to such rights but not expats. Even GCC nationals are not protected in many instances and I shall share my experience here. I have discovered after 25 years of working for the Private sector that being a GCC national, I had Social Security and Pension benefits and rights. No one has ever approached me or alerted me of the same. Even Labor Laws at that time never mentioned such benefits or rights. I discovered the sad reality while surfing one day on the internet. When I approached the relevant authorities, I was informed that I was 10 months too late to claim such rights hence I have lost all such rights and benefits. This experience has killed me deep inside and I will continue voicing out that what happened to me was unfair and unjust and I blame the primitive Labor Law for my great loss. I will never forgive those that are responsible for the outcome of my 25 years of hard work. The result is simply "Bread without Butter" and this is one of my biggest regrets why I worked for the Private sector. I was robbed of my rights and benefits and no one cared to give me my rights back. Talk about having a justice system! Talk about human rights! Humans have no rights!). As for GCC nationals and expats that work for the Private sector, they do have something called gratuity but in many cases and especially in a time of recession no one can guarantee that any company would
7. have the necessary funds to pay any employees / laborers their gratuities due to mass terminations or due to mass resignations (since no company makes any provisions for the same). 13) Public sector employees (mainly nationals) are not stressed, are much more relaxed and are given time to learn and to adapt and are forgiven most of the times for their errors or their lack of punctuality. No one questions any Government employee why he or she doesn’t answer the phone or doesn’t reply to the emails (I believe that all Government employees should be mandated to reply to all phone calls and to all emails without fail. In fact, this should be part of their KPI’s). Private sector employees (nationals and expats) must learn fast and are put under a magnifying glass. In general, they are always stressed and are overloaded with work and and are always stressed by the lack of job security. There is no room for any errors and punctuality is a must. Important note: There is an agreement about Equal Employment Opportunities for GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Nationals. The agreement states that all GCC states must comply and adhere to this ratified agreement. Governments and companies operating in the GCC region should revise their recruitment policies and strategies accordingly. Also, the Labor Laws should be revised accordingly. Here is a link to the GCC Economic Nationality Agreement: http://www.gcc-sg.org/en- us/CooperationAndAchievements/Achievements/EconomicCooperation/TheGCCCommonMarketandEco nomicnationality/Pages/GCCEconomicnationality.aspx The importance of such an agreement is to offer for example equal employment rights for any GCC national living anywhere in the Gulf. Regretfully, this is not the case and still GCC Governments and local GCC companies are giving priority to the nationals of the hiring country by mentioning for example "For UAE Nationals only" or "For Saudi Nationals only". This goes against the ratified agreement as stated here above. The problem is that we have agreements but they are simply ignored.
8. I hope that someone somewhere will read the "GCC Economic Nationality" agreement and assist in changing the present situation where GCC nationals are ignored in the job market and not given any priority. This is a wakeup call. Now that GCC countries want to implement VAT (value added tax) and are thinking about various tax laws, what do the citizens (locals and expats) want in return? I believe that they want the following: 1) A fair & just justice system for all 2) A fair & just labor law for all (including Gender Equality and a fair & just Maternity Law) 3) Safer roads and more traffic control (including harsher laws and stiffer punishments) 4) A modernized educational system for all 5) Affordable education and affordable housing for those in need Finally, many GCC Governments are interested in innovation at this moment in time. I must state that successful innovation requires proper implementation mechanisms, proper laws in place, proper funding, a functional justice system, proper follow-up, proper policies and proper process ownership including willingness to make it happen. I shall always believe in a better future... ----------------------------------------------------------------------
9. For those that care to know where the origins of the title "Bread without Butter" came from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bread-without-butter-introduction-momtaz-alsolh Important hope: I am still praying to almighty Allah (God) to see the light of the fair and just 2016 Labor Law in all GCC countries. Important reminder: There is a saying that goes like this: “Forgiven is the one that has warned!” Tatashok, the clock is ticking (Tatashok is a name that I have created to combine the names of two of the largest bus manufacturers in India). I will do what is necessary to ban your cheap buses that come without air-conditioning. The owners of these bus manufacturing companies are inhuman. The day shall come when almighty Allah (God) shall punish you for having allowed the suffering of millions of Laborers (and Farmers) in the GCC region and elsewhere around the world as well. Laborers (and farmers) come from all religions / races. Take a healthy decision! Yes, it can be done. Do not befriend the devil! ***One could read my previous posts: "Tatashok" & "Poor Transportation" to have a clear picture of what I really mean.