Saudi Arabia's new labour law - Nitaqat system - that was implemented to provide employment to natives in the private sector, has rendered hundreds of emigrants jobless. Among them, 75 are from Haryana.
Earlier this month, the union ministry of overseas Indian affairs informed the Haryana government that among hundreds of emigrants who lost their jobs under the new labour laws of the Islamic country, 75 were of Haryana, a senior government official, on the condition of anonymity, told Hindustan Times. “We do not have details about their nature of work and their native places in the state. The issue will be discussed with state governments at a meeting in Delhi on Tuesday,” the official said.
The state government has appointed DC Bhatti, deputy director, employment, and chief executive officer, overseas placement bureau, Haryana, as nodal officer to deal with the issue.
The ministry had, on June 13, sent a letter to the state governments, stating that the Saudi Arabian government had provided emergency certificates (required to leave the country) to emigrants and they would be ferried to India next month, officials said. “The Centre is in talks with Air India to arrange special flights to bring them back. On reaching India, the state government will transport them to their home from either Delhi or Mumbai,” the official said.
In the letter, the ministry had asked the state government to make arrangements for emigrants' rehabilitation. The ministry had requested the state governments may consider their employment under state or central government schemes or some special scheme that could be launched for their rehabilitation.
On being asked about the measures being taken by the state government, the official said it was being deliberated upon and would be announced after the meeting with the ministry on Tuesday.
What is Nitaqat System?
The Nitaqat system is a process initiated by the labour ministry of Saudi Arabia to boost employment of natives in the private sector. According to reports, it was started in 2011. Under the programme, private companies are evaluated by calculating the percentage of Saudi employees out of total employees working in an entity.
Based on their nationalisation performance, companies are graded as excellent, green, yellow and red. Depending on the type of work, the percentage requirement of native employees varies from 6% to more than 50%. The companies have been classified in five sizes. The smallest or 'micro' company has a workforce of 0-9 employees, while a firm is classified as giant if it has more than 3,000 employees. Last year, the Arabian labour ministry implemented a new law that ended the Nitaqat exemption for micro firms with 0-9 employees.
The deadline for implementing the new system expired on March 27. Every firm is now required to have a minimum percentage of Saudi workers. Apart from this, the ministry has also fixed a minimum monthly salary of 3,000 riyals for Saudi workers, reports said. Media reports suggest that Indian workers would be the worst sufferers in this new system as they constitute the largest chunk of expatriate workers in the country.