Despite the lawsPrivate sector employees oppressed [Archives:2005/831/Community]

April 7 2005

Very low salaries, monthly deductions, insufficient breaks and arbitrary dismissals are the most prominent problems associated with working for private sector institutions.

Abdussamad, who works for a painting factory, said laborers at the factory are mostly children who are paid between YR120-140 a day. “Despite the fact we at the factory are supposed to be provided with safety equipment and training courses to help us avoid risks at work, nothing was done”, he said.

Ali Mustafa noted, “a certain amount is deducted from our salaries every month as an insurance but when we leave the factory, the employer does not pay us the money deducted as insurance”. According to Ali, private sector institutions have a policy that prevents the employees from being paid their insurance unless they show insanity certificates.

“When someone is sick, his employer sends him to a certain doctor who in turn prescribes him cheap and useless medicines and grants him a very short break that does not exceed two days” said employee Hisham Abdu.

Mohammad who works for a tourist hotel claimed that employees are usually mistreated by their bosses and shown no respect.

These complaints by private sector workers compelled the Yemen Times to visit Abdu al-Hakimi General Manager of Taiz Social Affairs and Labor Office, who agreed that more attention has to be paid to issues of private sector workers.

Regarding the arbitrary dismissal of employees al-Hakimi said, “we have an arbitration committee that acts as a workforce court. This committee is composed of some people representing the government, some members from the general union of Yemeni laborers and one member from the Chamber of Industry and Trade.”

In response to complaints of the employee, the committee holds a meeting in the presence of both the employer and the employee and if the latter was arbitrarily dismissed, the committee rules that they should be compensated.

Al-Hakimi described two areas of labor law designed to reduce these problems. Firstly, all private sector workers are supposed to be paid an additional salary (equivalent to a monthly payment), and secondly, insurance payments are supposed to be refunded to the employee when they stop working with the company.

With respect to the working hours, al-Hakimi said: “the maximum number of hours is eight per day and we have published and circulated notes to all the private sector institutions about this maximum number of working hours. Workers should be paid for their overtime work. According to the law, if any employee works overtime on occasions and official holidays, a single day will be counted as two days.”

According to the republican decree recently drafted, the minimum payment a private sector worker should be paid must not be lower than the lowest salary a public sector employee receives (YR8750). An inspection committee has been formed to report companies that violate the law.

If any one is injured at work, the company should compensate them, and health services should be offered for workers if the number of workers exceeds 50. Medical committees should be responsible for medical reports that assign the period of rest to sick employee, al-Hakimi added.