Dec 25 2011
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Saudi firms told to raise wages for citizens
Saudi Arabia intends to force its companies to increase monthly salaries for citizens to at least SR3,000 ($800) to encourage Saudis to join the private sector and find jobs for hundreds of thousands of people.
The Ministry of Labour, which is spearheading the Gulf kingdom's most aggressive job Saudization drive, said it was working on a new programme to set the minimum salary for nationals working in the private sector at SR3,000.
It said the programme would be enforced in March, 2012 and is intended to retain Saudi employees in the private sector by making their minimum salary equal to that in the more attractive public sector.
"This would prevent Saudi employees from resigning and registering for the Hafiz Program for unemployed citizen," he said.
He said arrangements are going on to sign agreements with a number of private sector companies to encourage Saudi youth to join the private sector.
The paper quoted labour officials as saying that Hadaf is making it obligatory on private companies to provide a minimum salary of SR3,000 for Saudi nationals. The aim is to encourage Saudis to work and foster job stability in private sector companies, the paper added.
"A number of executives in private sector companies said that if such an undertaking is implemented, it will create employment stability for youth. They said adopting this programme will create thousands of job opportunities in the coming year," the English language daily said.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has recently asked the country's hundreds of thousands of private sector institutions to raise their wages for Saudis to a minimum SR3,000 to lure them into this sector and cut unemployment. Official data showed Saudi Arabia, with population of 27 million, including nearly 20 million Saudis, is suffering from a jobless rate of around 10.5 per cent among Saudis. The rate is as high as 30 per cent among women.
Early this year, the largest Arab economy and the world's oil powerhouse launches its most aggressive job nationalization initiative dubbed Nita at (ranges) and set a target to employ 400,.000 Saudis per year.
Expatriates, estimated at just over seven million, fear such initiative could be at their expense but officials have reassured them there will be no job losses. Under Nitaqat, which was announced on June 11, private sector establishments were given four classifications -- excellent and green with high Saudi labour percentage, and red and yellow, with low Saudi labour ratio.
Foreign workers in the first two categories can stay as long as they want while the stay of expatriate workers in the two negative categories will be limited to six years in case the company fails to adjust to Saudisation rules.
The labour ministry has warned firms that it would not tolerate any attempts to manoeuvre or circumvent the rules by offering Saudis low-paid jobs in a bid to dissuade them from accepting work.
According to Saudi minister of labour Adel Faqih, nearly 20 per cent of the private sector firms could find themselves in the red zone unless they take what he described as drastic measures to get in line within the deadline.
Analysts described Nitaqat as the most radical measure taken by Saudi Arabia to force its private sector to employ more Saudis following the failure of previous procedures and a deterioration in local unemployment.
© Emirates 24|7 2011
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