Dr. Saeed Al-Siraihi
When Labor Minister Adel Fakieh was mayor of Jeddah, Okaz hosted him in an exclusive dialogue with its reporters and writers. I remember I said to him that the residents of Jeddah would not be content with him unless he achieved for the city the same success he had with private company of which he was chairman. He was able to save that company from the huge losses it was incurring and made it one of the biggest and most successful firms.
If I had an opportunity to meet him again I would say the same thing to him. The young men and women who have long been living under the nightmare of unemployment while seeing the big companies and small establishments import manpower from the four corners of the world will not be happy with him unless he achieves similar success in the Saudization of jobs.
Though it seems that the minister is taking steady steps on this road regardless of the challenges being created by the businessmen who are infatuated with foreign recruitment and who have no regard for the Saudization process, his success in the program of Saudization will not be realized unless a minimum wage for foreigners has been fixed. The low payment is the sole reason that tempts businessmen to import foreign manpower. The minister himself had said there were more than 4 million foreigners in the Kingdom whose monthly salaries were less than a thousand riyals.
Though we are certain that fixing minimum wages is not within the powers of the minister, we realize that his duty makes it imperative on him to fight a long battle with these stakeholders until a decision is agreed to reduce foreign labor.
A decision to fix minimum wages for foreigners will be a great help to the minister in his Saudization project. Such a decision will also enable us to correct the situation of foreign manpower in our country.
We will then be able to counter the accusation that we take advantage of the economic conditions of the countries where these workers come from and employ them on small salaries, subject them to all kinds of maltreatment and force them to use illegal means to increase their meager incomes.