RIYADH – Labor Office directors across the Kingdom are engaged in Jihad (holy war) for the good work they are doing at home, said Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, Minister of Labor, during his meeting with the labor office directors Saturday in Riyadh.
“You have been working to fight against labor injustice and harm to protect both citizens and expatriate workers and to prevent any comment tainting the reputation of the Kingdom,” he said. “After Allah the Almighty, you are holding the torch of justice for labor rights of workers and sponsors,” he said.
“Allah said that He has created people to serve each other and we should not be talking about mean and superior jobs,” he said. There is a public tendency here to quickly forget history when the people of Saudi Arabia used to do all sorts of jobs 50 years ago, he said. Taking Aramco, the Saudi oil company, as an example of a diverse employment institution, he said that the company has had Saudis doing all types of jobs throughout its 75 years of existence.
The public attitude to foreign labor in the Kingdom has been blurred by racism and arrogance, he said. “In the past, we looked up to foreigners with respect in our country, but now it seems to have changed,” he said. Foreigners are looked at as wealth grabbers, social corruptors and potential criminals,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we have been overwhelmed by arrogance and have begun to think we are better than those workers who have come to be our development partners,” Gosaibi said.
“Imagine that housemaid who has abandoned her family and children to come here. Imagine that worker who has put all his family’s savings or house in collateral to come here. We should not forget such sacrifices made by those who have come to serve us after it had been for a long time our job to serve ourselves,” he said.
“There are no mean or superior jobs. Rather there are honorable and dishonorable ones,” he said. One’s employment depends on the quality of education and skills, he said. The Labor Ministry, which was started in its ministerial form four years ago, has been enthusiastically developing its e-governance system as 75 percent of visa issuance and renewal applications are executed electronically, he said. “I hope that 90 percent of our paperwork processing will be done electronically soon,” Gosaibi said.
“The government has the money to buy the technology, but the problem lies in the human resources. If the person behind the screen does not know how to efficiently do the job, the change is then merely cosmetic,” he said.
The Ministry of Labor still needs to find a more methodical governance system that would not keep periodically changing its recruitment and employment laws, the minister said, urging more cooperation in the labor decision- making process from the labor office directors. – Okaz/SG