Only 36 labor dispute cases settled a year

Only 36 labor dispute cases settled a year
Updated 01 February 2014

Only 36 labor dispute cases settled a year

Only 36 labor dispute cases settled a year

Saudi legal experts and economists have called for the establishment of labor courts under the Ministry of Justice to rule in urgent labor-related cases.
Such calls have come in the wake of shocking Labor Ministry statistics that show that only 36 labor dispute cases are resolved each year despite a staggering backlog of 1,400 such cases in Jeddah’s courts.
These labor courts will be expected to issue swift rulings in labor-related disputes.
Such a move, they say, is essential in the wake of efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Labor to nationalize jobs and create job security for Saudis in the private sector.
Experts have also called for canceling the role of labor committees currently affiliated to the Ministry of Labor due to their failure to resolve disputes involving delayed salary payment, unlawful dismissal and failure to respect workers’ rights.
Indeed, such a climate has created fear among Saudi youth in the labor market.
Yousif Ahmad, a Saudi employee, said: “I was a hard working employee. I used to work more than eight hours a day and didn’t care to follow up on overtime because I trusted my employer. When I wanted to leave for a better job offer, he refused to grant me my rights even though I worked with him for nine years.”
Ahmad went to the labor office to file a complaint. He was surprised to learn that such a simple case could take up to seven months before a ruling is issued.
Amjad Saeed worked in the clothes retail industry for many years and used to look for better pay and more suitable working hours.
"Workers sometimes work 12 hours a day and don't get paid any overtime," he said.
He said that establishing a union for retail workers or an independent labor judicial body might force these companies to abide by labor laws in paying overtime.
Yet Khalid Al-Shahrani, a lawyer and legal adviser on labor-related issues with an international company, said labor laws in the Kingdom do not allow for the setting up of labor unions.
In fact, the Ministry of Labor allowed for the establishment of labor committees only in accordance with specific rules.
Abed Al-Abdali, professor of economics at the Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah and a member of the Saudi Economic Society, said union culture is weak in Saudi society because the public sector monopolizes the decision-making process in the Kingdom.
Mohammad Al-Mashouh, former chairman of the National Labor Committee at the Saudi Council of Chambers, said the Ministry of Labor has huge files and responsibilities, which makes forming labor committees the least of its worries.
He said such committees would be subsumed under the Ministry of Justice due to the sheer number of pending labor-related cases.