Enough about expats, what about the Saudi sponsors?

Somayya Jabarti
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For all the legal scrutiny, scam-proofing and supposed streamlining efforts directed at guest workers, it is all pointless and in vain since the Labor Ministry seems to have excluded an element, instrumental and fundamental, to the mess we are in: The law-breaking host, none other than “The Violating Sponsor.”

Or is there infinite amnesty for our countrymen and women who have significantly contributed to, if not downright caused, the havoc that conscientious hard-working residents and citizens find themselves in?

Who has created and nurtured the very concept of “free visa trade”?
The Violating Sponsor.

Who has recruited countless guest workers in the name of “phantom” establishments?
The Violating Sponsor.

Who injected these “free visa carriers” into the local market and reaped thousands, if not millions, off guest workers’ earnings with their continued extortions?
The Violating Sponsor.

Abduljalil has been in the Kingdom since 1983. He along with 3,700 other expatriates have been under the sponsorship of a Saudi man who has been running a “phantom” establishment all these years.

Conscienceless sponsors

The sponsor has been charging them each anything between SR4,000 to SR8,000 per year. Now having miraculously changed his “phantom” establishment that still does not have a single Saudi employee from Red to Green last week, The Violating Sponsor, is charging them SR6,000 each to grant them an NoC.

Is it not enough that the majority of guest workers have been made illegal as employees or as residents due to the immoral, illegal and unethical conduct of The Violating Sponsor?

Somayya Jabarti

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has granted amnesty to all guest workers waiving all legal and financial dues — the fines and the debts. And all relevant and related governmental divisions are supposed to be in “ultra-cooperation” mode in accommodating the status-rectification process for residents illegally working or illegally here.

You would think that The Violating Sponsor would get the message and follow suit. But, oh no, what does The Violating Sponsor do? Continue to bleed guest workers to their last “halala”.

These conscienceless sponsors are charging guest workers under their sponsorship thousands of riyals in return for handing over passports, NoCs and other documents belonging and due to the sponsored guest workers!

Is it not enough that the majority of guest workers have been made illegal as employees or as residents due to the immoral, illegal and unethical conduct of The Violating Sponsor?

Short-changing employer

Show me Saudi employees who will continue with a short-changing employer who overworks them, and then and only then, can you blame a guest worker, who is thousands of miles away from home and family, for fleeing a sponsor, who works him/her for the longest of hours and that too without being paid.

Khalil is employed at a reputable company. He is not a doctor in ER yet he is on call literally 24/7. Did someone say overtime? Ha! The man gets paid only every couple of months. And out of those sporadic salaries, come the expenses of the annual ticket, Iqama renewal and other paperwork, which by law are supposed to be covered by the sponsor.

Why did Karminti flee her sponsor? For over a period of three years, they would pay her a single salary every three to five months. While worked to the bone, she was only allowed to eat once a day.

The cases of Abduljalil, Khalil and Karminti are just grains of sand in the desert. Had the Labor Ministry activated the hotline promised years ago, it would have dutifully known of every guest worker’s plight in our country and maybe, just maybe, prevented the infuriating and humiliating rut we are all in now.

And maybe, just maybe, the Labor Ministry could have stopped The Violating Sponsor, who has been stifling the livelihoods of many a guest worker and soiling the image of the country and Islam.

Then again you don’t need a hotline to learn about The Violating Sponsor, do you? You merely need to step out for a reality check.
And the reality check is?

Only the results of illegal and immoral conduct, which is illegal residence or employment, are being touched upon.

If you want to cork a problem, nip a dilemma in the bud, then you tackle the core of the issue, the agent whose misconduct has resulted in the concept of illegal residents and employees.

Monitor The Violating Sponsor.
Stop The Violating Sponsor.
Fine The Violating Sponsor.
Arrest The Violating Sponsor.

Come now Labor Ministry, a sample of justice before Judgment Day is all we ask!

This article was first published in The Saudi Gazette on May 26, 2013.

Somayya Jabarti is the Deputy Editor of Saudi Gazette. Previously, Jabarti was the Deputy Editor of Arab News, a Saudi English newspaper based in Jeddah. Jabarti worked for Arab News for over nine years, where she started out as a local desk editor and advanced to become the Deputy National desk editor, then Executive Editor and later Managing Editor. She is currently the first Saudi woman to make Managing Editor and Deputy Editor of a Saudi daily publication. Jabarti has participated in various media focused trainings and workshops such as the 2008 MENA Media Emerging Leaders Fellowship, London Middle East Institute & the Commonwealth Journalists Association reporting course. She was also involved in planning and organizing the Women’s First Media Forum held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2006.

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