11th phase of wage protection program covers over 481,000

newsimageRIYADH — As many as 481,097 employees working for 7,021 establishments each with a workforce ranging between 60-79 will be covered in the 11th phase of the wage protection program set for launch Tuesday. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said phases 11 to 16 of the program will cover establishments with less than 80 and up to 11 workers. The date for the application of the program on establishments with less than 11 workers will be fixed later. The ministry said establishments not paying workers' salaries on time will be fined SR3,000 and said it would stop all its services from the establishments delaying salaries for two or more moths. "Aug.1 will be the date for the launch of the wage protection program's 11th stage," the ministry said in a statement published on its Twitter account. The program is also aimed at establishing a database containing uptodate information about the payment of salaries to the workers in the private sector. "The program will reflect the commitment of the companies and establishments to pay salaries on time and at the amount agreed upon with the workers," the ministry said. The ministry introduced the program for the first time in 2012 to protect private sector employees from delay in getting their monthly payments. It was first applied on companies and establishments employing 3,000 people or more and went down to the 10th stage which covered establishments with about 80 employees or more. Meanwhile, economic experts believe that 100 percent nationalization of jobs in seven sectors will provide more than 76,000 job opportunities to the nationals of both genders. The ministry has already Saudized jobs in the communication sector and is planning to localize jobs in the sectors of tourism, health, car rental offices, mobile food vehicles, groceries, supermarkets and malls. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, member of the Saudi Society of Economists, described the move as positive and said it would provide ample job opportunities for the Saudis. He called for removing all the hurdles that might impede the process of Saudization including tasattur (expats doing jobs in the names of Saudis against certain fees). "A large number of expatriates are working in the contracting sector as well as in shops and car rental offices," he said. Maghlouth called for making the private sector attractive to the Saudis and said tasattur is dissipating the wealth of the country. Ahmed Al-Fakeeh, a realtor, called for nationalizing the real estate sector and said it has more non-Saudis. "We need strict laws to make the Saudization process a success as we have already made tangible achievements in the localization of jobs in the private sector," he said. A number of owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have called for rigorous training of national manpower to be able to keep pace with the needs and requirements of the labor market.