Indian expats hail delay in Saudi labour law Nitaqat
Saudi Arabia-'s decision to postpone its new labour policy-'s third phase, which may affect a large numbers of Indian workers, has come as a breather...
Saudi Arabia's decision to postpone its new labour policy's third phase, which may affect a large numbers of Indian workers, has come as a breather to expatriate workers and the private sector, a media report said on Wednesday.
The labour ministry had scheduled to launch Nitaqat's third phase on April 20 but Labour Minister Adel Fakeih postponed it to allow the private sector more time to understand standards regarding this stage of the labour law.
Nitaqat, a Saudisation programme, was introduced by the Saudi ministry of labour in June 2011 to encourage employment of its nationals in the private sector, which, as of 2006, was largely dominated by expatriate workers.
The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), an influencial business body, said in a letter to the labour minister that raising the Saudisation rate at this stage would have a negative impact on the job market as companies would not be able to recruit enough Saudi workers, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The CSC indicated that the turnout of Saudis at a recent job fair organised by the Council of Saudi Chambers for Commerce and Industry, which offered about 3,000 jobs, was much less than expected.
Only 1,409 men and women attended company interviews, even after a strong advertising campaign.
The ministry wanted downstream industries to raise the Saudisation rate from 25 percent to 41 percent, large retail and wholesale firms from 29 percent to 44 percent, and other large commercial establishments from 29 percent to 66 percent.
It also wants SMEs to increase the number of Saudi workers within a time frame.
Abdullah Radwan, a member of the Construction Committee at Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said several construction companies needed more time to avoid a labour shortage, as it is hard to hire Saudis in some occupations.
There is an urgent need to train and qualify Saudis before raising the Saudisation rate, he added.
Indian workers, the largest expatriate community in the country, will benefit most from this decision. The number of Indians staying in the country is estimated at three million.
"Nitaqat's third phase will force private companies to dismiss expatriate workers to hire more Saudis. It means nearly 50 percent of expatriate workers would have to leave the kingdom," an Indian worker was quoted as saying.