Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Omanization Challenge

I was at a supermarket buying magazines and I could hear the Omani checkout girls talking amongst themselves behind me. One of them said that last month x rials were deducted from her salary because of cash shortages in her till. The other one replied "oh I wish I can get my full salary if even just once. My cash never balances with the till." I couldn't believe it. How can you have a cash shortage when the supermarket till actually tells the girl how much change to give back. I've never been given too much change back, have you? I went home and told this story to my family and my mom told me about her friend's daughter who works in a bank as a teller and can never balance her cash either so the bank deducts all the shortages from her salary. This is meanial labour. It doesn't require any skill. And yet people still find ways to screw up at it and not lose their jobs over it.

Today I was at Al Fair buying a sandwich when the cashier stopped me to ask if I work in a bank. She said her bank was refusing to give her a cheque book because her salary is less than 200 rials. She wants to buy a car and the dealer insists on post dated cheques to cover the installment. I asked her why don't you take a car loan from the bank to buy the car and she said she doesn't want the loan, she just wants the cheques. With 30% of car installment cheques bouncing, it's understandable why banks are so cautious about giving out cheque books. But why's a person with a salary of 120 or 150 rials a month thinking of buying a car in the first place?

As far as the Ministry of Manpower is concerned all the above examples are success stories because they are employed. Statistically, the ministry's doing great forcing companies to hire Omanis. And yet the statistics tell two stories. Earlier this week at Majlis Al Shura, the minister of manpower presented some staggering statistics. He said in the first 4 years of the present 5 year plan, 48,000 Omanis left their jobs. Of these, 30,000 were fired- mainly for lack of commitment to their jobs. A study was conducted to find the reasons for this. It was found that it was mainly due to "poor wages and lack of a promising career, or the job is incompatible with family and social commitments. Secondary reasons include failure to adapt to work environment, imposing hours of work on workers, and difficulties moving to and from places of work."

Firing an Omani worker isn't an easy task. You can't just say "you're fired" and tell the accountant to prepare his final pay cheque. It's a massive effort which includes a series of verbal and written warnings. The warnings have to be justified and when you reach a certain number of warnings then you can fire the worker. And usually even if the company was right in its decision the worker would go to the labour department and file a complaint or sue the company requesting re-instatement in his job. You have to be an absolutely horrible worker to get a company to fire you. And yet 30,000 of them managed to do just that- get themselves fired. What a shame.


Sleepless In Muscat said...

hey guys..

reminds me way back of my situation when i was with al fair...they were ruthless...i mean let's be fair not all statistics are correct...example: the population census; by the time it was published and read, the count only went higher.

all i am saying is if you want the truth; go to the horse's mouth. in this case: the empoloyee..

Masquerader said...

I don't think 30,000 were fired or did you really mean they chose to resign? either way, I wouldn't be surprised if a big # of the 30,000 moved to Dubai. I wonder if we have any stats on # of omanis working in dubai % abu-dhabi.

Sowhat said...

Hey there
hey muscati well this is my first post in your Wonderfull blog , am checking it 2 times-aday i think i became an addict ..

well regarrdign Omanization i dont know how those people are thinking ... No one from the new geenration will work fastidious work for less than 80 or for 100 RO .. they should have know this before they apply it ..

The thing that really make me angry is their decision regarding barber shops , they are sending 30 or 50 omani to study how-to-cut hair in India , and they will close all the shops that is not ruled By omanies , I should be really worried since am not really affraid that they will screw my hair style ( couse i dont have any ) but i think the point it self is really silly ..

thanks again for your wonderfull blog , you and your wife

Anonymous said...

Although I have never worked with cash I don’t think it would be easy dealing with it. Cashiers at a bank or in a shop have to deal with a queue of customers. They usually don’t have much time to think, they don’t get a break during rush hours and although you may think it’s an easy job I am sure it can be quite stressful at times. The computer does tell them how much cash to give back but it does not count the money for them. They can easily make a mistake. Give them a break they hardly make any money and as if that is not enough they literally have to pay for their mistakes! Instead of feeling sorry for them you are making fun of them! What a shame! I wonder if you could handle their jobs since apparently you are so skilful.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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muscati said...

masquerader- Juma Ali Juma's exact words were:

"The most important challenges for employing Omanis and realising Omanisation ratios set for various private sector activities include the tendency among Omani workers to abandon their jobs. As many as 48,374 Omani workers have left their jobs in the last four years, this includes 18,247 who resigned," he said.

Some 30,127 national employees have been dismissed for lack of commitment

This is not a misquote, it was in all the newspapers, Arabic and English. Only 18,000 resigned, the other 30,000 were fired. Some of them were fired because the companies went out of business or the companies finished the contracts which they were working on. But the fact is the majority just weren't working hard enough and had to be fired.

As for how many moved to Dubai, I doubt it's more than a tiny little percentage of them. Maybe not even 100, let alone 1000. These 30,000 which the minister refers to here are mostly holders of highschool diplomas only and have no qualifications. They worked at minimum wage. They are not the kind of people who can get jobs abroad. The people who quit their jobs and move to Dubai tend to be highly educated people who leave very good jobs in Oman for even better jobs in Dubai. That's more of a brain drain situation.

muscati said...

Instead of feeling sorry for them you are making fun of them! What a shame! I wonder if you could handle their jobs since apparently you are so skilful.

When it's as hard as it is in Oman to get a job, you better appreciate the fact that you have one and do a good job of it. Everyone's allowed to screw up every once in a while. But when your pay is already the lowest possible, then it's your own responsibility to make sure you don't make mistakes that cost you deductions from your salary. There are literarly thousands of Omani tellers in Oman in banks and supermarkets. The vast majority of them don't make mistakes. I totally agree that it's a stressful job. But it's a job. And the pay is not less than RO. 120 a month. Not much, but better than nothing. It's the government that sets the minimum wage. Anywhere else in the world, if you keep screwing up the balance of your till you lose your job. And they'll get someone in your place who won't screw up. These ladies are lucky they have an employer who just docks their pay every month instead of firing them.

I appreciate hard work. I appreciate people who rise to the challenge and accept menial labor and make the most of it. I am sorry if you think my comments are shameful. Our religion teaches us to be the best at everything we do. Whether it's mopping floors or working the cash checkout at the supermarket.

Wardat_il'7leej said...

Not that I have anything extremely insightful to add, but I would like to know do these Omani workers who have to deal with money (till) get proper training, or are they in any way qualified for their jobs? I guess what I am trying to say is if you cant add and subtract they you should not be dealing with numbers in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Too bad everyone isn't as smart and fortunate as you are.

Wardat_il'7leej said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wardat_il'7leej said...

If that was addressed to me since I was the last to post a comment:

I am glad that the likes of you considers me an intelligent person to ask such a direct straightforward question, which you could have easily replied to. Yet I can see that you don’t have the capacity to say anything more than small dime witted observations.

Are you so uncertain about yourself that you hide behind the veil of anonymity?

NOTE: if this was addressed to the original poster my above question still stands

Anonymous said...

"One of them said that last month x rials were deducted from her salary because of cash shortages in her till. The other one replied "oh I wish I can get my full salary if even just once. My cash never balances with the till."

No one will purposefully make mistakes especially when they know they have to pay for it. I know you think that these jobs require no skills, but you need to have some sort of computer background before you can use the till a lot of cashiers are not trained. Dealing with cash is not easy especially if you are already nervous about it not balancing at the end of the day. Human error is inevitable no one is perfect not even you! Imagine after a hard month at work working long hours, you are rewarded by not getting paid in full. It’s not like they get paid that much to start with, I am sure every rial counts for them. If they didn’t need the money they would not have taken a job as a cashier it’s not exactly a bright career, but it is a means to an end.

muscati said...

Wardat_il'7aleej, I'm sure Anon's response was for me not you.

Anon- I never pretended to be smart, though I am thankful for whatever circumstances that Allah has blessed me with. But no matter how smart or talented a person thinks s/he is there are others waiting in the wings who are smart or smarter. No matter how well you're doing, you still have to keep working hard because if you don't others will catch up with you and take your place. That's just how life is.

[i]I would like to know do these Omani workers who have to deal with money (till) get proper training, or are they in any way qualified for their jobs?[/i]

Yes they are, and actually quite often the government pays for their training so that the companies that employ them can't complain that it would cost too much to train Omanis. For example, Omanis who work in petrol stations are trained at special institutes. They're taught basic mathematics so that they can give the right amount of change. I don't know what kind of training they give them for working in a supermarket beyond how to use an electronic cash till and a bar code scanner.

Anonymous might think that I have no sympathy for these people, but it's not true. In fact it absolutely breaks my heart to see them complain about hard their situation is. But no matter how much sympathy you have, it is in their hands and no one else's. If their till doesn't balance and it gets ducked out of their pay then they better get better at their jobs because one day the supermarket's management will change and they'll stop being so lenient with them. Another manager might think "why duck her pay every month when I can get someone who does the job right the first time?"

Which other country in the world does the government pay to train a person to pump gas or to work a cash register in a supermarket?!! Come on now, people.

Sowhat said...
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Sowhat said...

Whatever is your jop , just be interested little bit,do it carfully you would do it right at the end .. COMMON you have to admit it ,when i see those girls who works in the supermarkes they are always chatting ,gigling with each others some would even talk in the phone .. i think you have to admit it is not the kind of work , it is not the companies it is the ppl who are working its the 30 thousand we were lacking some commitment .. they SHOULD show some interst even though the low wages couse apearantly they couldnt get better jop ..

mentioned maturity said...

hey i dont know if its in connection with the ongoing discussion. but i was just wondering abt some of these hyper markets like carrefour (in dubai), etc. where they offer stuff at subsidised rates and you often end up with a bill of Dhs. 45.15 or 76.29, etc. what i mean is an odd figure of the sort, and when you are paying cash, it is generally rounded off to say 45 or 76.50.... that probably does lead to the balance going haywire, considering each cash register might be attending to 50 customers (minimum) daily.... wonder how that is taken care of..

Najah said...

Anonymus: I dont see how you can link the matter totally on how hard the job is and how easy it is to slip. They are complaining about something controlable, you can't be on the side of any of them to be honest. its a one to one relationship, you do your job dedicatevly or not get your full sallery. In rush hours, it is rushed for both the customer and them, they can slow down if they don't have the ability to be precise and fast...

Anonymous said...

Tell you another muther F**... who won't be able to balance his til is the guy who works at Omantel in Qurum, I am such a stupid sod that I feel it's a tad offensive to stand there immediately and check the change, that when I go to the car, check the change, it's always short, I love the notice above them which says check your change as mistakes cannot be rectified, it's almost willing the teller to nick a riyal here and there, what da f*ck is going on here?????

Anonymous said...

By the way I am not the same anonymous as above who thinks it is such a difficult task, that when the change on a cash register says "change due" 3OR and they manage to count out OR 3.200,quite frankly it isn't too difficult to look at the bloody screen and count out the cash, I find it pretty frightening if their tils don't tally at the end of the day, their pay should be docked!!

They don't need computer training for christ sakes, a couple of days max, training on the til should be adequate for even the numb skulls of society!

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