Friday, December 17, 2010
Update: 19 December 2010 - Today, the government announced that starting 2011, employees no longer need a No Objection Letter to change jobs. It seems that they read my blog post!
Every Tuesday night I go to a proper Arabic barbershop where I get a clean shave and a clean haircut, a protocol that I maintained for 12 years because I don’t shave at home. When you see a barber repeatedly he opens up to you and starts telling you stories, many of them are sad.
Sayed, my latest barber, has a lot of interesting stories to tell and few of them are about his rude, unfair and disgusting sponsor.
3 months ago, Sayed came all the way from Egypt to Dubai with a dream. His dream is to save 10,000 dirhams (2,732 dollars) and go back to Egypt to open up his own small shop. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out to be as glamorous as he thought.
Since Sayed got to Dubai 3 months ago, he didn’t get paid. Sayed is married, and has a beautiful daughter in Egypt and he needs to send them money, but his boss didn’t pay him for the first 3 months because his boss had to pay 5 or 6 K for the government to issue him a work permit. According to UAE law, the Employer is supposed to cover all the costs of visas, work permits, labor cards etc. But some small companies and shops deduct that from their employees’ salaries illegally. Most employees are very new to UAE and don’t know the laws. Even if they do know, they ado not have the heart to file complaints.
first of all, Sayed didn’t have a day off in 3 months. What would he tell his boss if he wants to leave the shop? The boss knows that Sayed doesn’t have money, doesn’t have friends, and has no where else to go. So leaving the shop to file the complaint is kinna impossible.
Second, even if Sayed succeeds to file the complaint, what would happen? he will definitely get his money, but his boss still has the right to fire him and he will definitely do that.
Third, Sayed can’t even resign his job. If he does resign his job and find a better one he will not be able to get a new work permit because he will need a “No Objection Letter” from his sponsor. If he doesn’t get it, not only he won’t get a job, but he will be banned to work in UAE for 6 months!
It’s crazy. Few weeks ago Sayed was eating in the shop, there were no customers, his sponsor popped up and saw him and deducted 5 days from his salary. So if Sayed gets paid next month, it will be only for 3 weeks.
It’s a dilemma. Sayed is living on tips and they are not much. The shop is new, and hasn’t gathered momentum yet. He gets a maximum of 2 customers a day because there are 3 other barbers in the same shop and the shop is only receiving 8 customers a day. Oh, and his sponsor promised him a monthly salary of 2000 dirhams, but just told him it will be 1500 (547 dollars) because business is bad.
I saw his sponsor the other day and wanted to have a word with him, but I stopped my self because I don’t want to get Sayed deported. What to do? I really have no fucking clue.