Jan 05 2012
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Labor Ministry working with Haia to protect rights of saleswomen
The move comes in the wake of instructions issued by Labor Minister Adel Fakeih replacing men working at lingerie shops with Saudi women. The ministry says that over 28,000 women have already applied for the sales jobs.
Starting Thursday, the authorities will enforce the rules stipulating that only women should work in lingerie stores. A 2006 law banning men from working in such stores has never been put into effect.
He said the Labor Ministry has made all preparations for implementing the rules, including inspections, to ensure these stores comply with the regulations.
A working group consisting of inspectors from the Labor Ministry has been set up under the leadership of the committee's president to carry out random inspections of shopping malls to ensure their compliance with the regulations.
The inspection will be conducted in two shifts in the morning and evening. The visits will cover open and closed stores and shopping malls. One-day workshops with the inspectors in all labor offices will be held before the start of the operation. Among other measures, arrangements will be made for the publication of directories listing businesses and the goods they sell.
Speaking on the scope of cooperation with the Haia, Al-Tikhaifi said the commission is playing a great role in monitoring markets and shopping malls. He said they ensure saleswomen conduct themselves with dignity, adding that the Haia's experience in this field is important from the ministry's point of view.
In this context, the official said, there is now a joint committee consisting of representatives from the Labor Ministry and the Haia to handle complaints either from shopping mall visitors or from saleswomen at these malls. He said cooperation is required from society as a whole to create a safe and healthy working environment for women.
The labor official pointed out that a call center has been set up at the ministry for taking calls from women working at lingerie shops. He added that the ministry would also welcome complaints from shop owners or individuals. He said the ministry is committed to improving the current mechanism for handling complaints in cooperation with the Haia personnel. The complaints will be dealt with in strict confidence, he added.
The Haia is considering setting up a female cadre to oversee implementation of this law while also ensuring these shops employ only women as part of their workforce.
Shops that do not employ women will be penalized and even banned from selling, the ministry stressed.
With regard to foreigners still working at these shops, the undersecretary said workers are classified into two categories -- workers under owners' sponsorship and those not under their sponsorship.
The labor department is working in coordination with the Passports Department to identify any violation of residence rules and take action accordingly.
The labor official underscored the ministry's support for the project, adding shop owners are being briefed on the procedures at the different chambers of commerce and industry in the Kingdom.
At the same time, they are being assured of full cooperation from the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in providing training facilities to their employees and financial support.
Al-Tikhaifi said that stores covered by the women-only rule will be inspected on June 30. The inspection will cover shops operating inside or outside malls.
He said the initiative has been implemented in close coordination with other concerned government agencies including the Technical & Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), HRDF and the Administration for Joint Training.
The official said before implementation of the decision, the Ministry of Interior, different governorates and chambers of commerce across the Kingdom have been informed.
Owners of around 80 percent of women's clothing and makeup shops in various Saudi cities began hiring Saudi saleswomen in line with the January deadline.
© Arab News 2012
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