x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

FNC calls for private sector pay subsidies

The committee calls for greater Emiratisation efforts, including subsidies and specific workday timings.

ABU DHABI // The FNC's Emiratisation committee has called for the Government to subsidise citizens' salaries in the private sector.

The committee has devised a plan to encourage more Emiratis into the private sector, including changes to the labour law to give more privileges, and insisting companies only hire a foreigner if there is no national for the job.

It asked for specific working times and holidays to help make private jobs more appealing.

"There is a huge difference in salaries, times of work, incentives and holidays between the public and private sector," said Mosabeh Al Kitbi (Sharjah). "We are trying to bring them closer together."

In the public sector, the committee wants Emiratis in all jobs by 2021.

Mr Al Kitbi said that while someone in the private sector could earn Dh7,000 a month, those doing a similar job in the public sector could earn Dh25,000.

The Khalifa Fund has tried to help with subsidising salaries but a nationwide programme was now needed, he added.

The seven committee members said the amendment to an article requiring private companies employ Emiratis first would require a national database linking employment agencies with companies.

The Ministry of Labour controls the private sector but should also regulate the public sector and free zones, the committee said.

"Free zones must be governed by the labour law," Mr Al Kitbi said. "We see these as if they are other countries inside a country. It could influence the market inside."

He said the committee, which had studied the workforce for two years before devising the plan, had also created one for the public sector, including the requirement for an all-national workforce.

"They must be trained first, of course, to replace expatriates," Mr Al Kitbi said. "We say thank you to [expatriates], they gave what they can. It is now time for the Emirati to take their place."

He said the committee's plan would eventually help to resolve unemployment problems in the country.

"The issue is huge, it is not easy. We have started this intention for Emiratisation, and now we must continue," Mr Al Kitbi said. "The committee has formed a vision that it will present to the Government."

Although the government employment programme Absher was created at the end of last year to give Emiratis more jobs, it would only provide up to 5,000. Mr Al Kitbi said this was not enough.

And to govern all of the changes, a Higher Committee for Emiratisation must be formed, he said, with members from the private and public sector.

Although the council committee has finalised its report, no date has been set for a public debate, which will require the presence of two ministers.

They are Humaid Al Qattami, chairman of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources and Minister of Education; and Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Labour.

 

osalem@thenational.ae