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.