By Abdulhafeedh Mahboob
I do not know why we do not have a minimum wage for Saudis and non-Saudis while almost all countries around the world have their own minimum wage without differentiating between citizens and residents of other nationalities living and working there. In fact, these countries try to raise the minimum wage despite strong opposition from businessmen.
Setting a minimum wage would help reduce social disparities, speed up economic growth and strengthen the middle class. The United States is working to increase the minimum hourly wage of newly hired employees from $7.25 to $10.10.
The public and private sectors should work together to ensure that each individual gets a decent salary so that he or she can lead a decent life and feel financially secure. The United Kingdom has a minimum wage. However, some private companies go as far as volunteering to help employees with their living expenses.
These expenses are based on the results of official studies that show the minimum living expense of an average Briton. This is completely different to the minimum wage scheme and totally depends on the health and strength of the economy. In the United Kingdom, companies view paying living expenses as something moral and something that would enhance the company’s reputation. This generates a lot of benefits, especially in unskilled jobs.
Therefore, if there were no minimum wage and no living expense allowance, the chasm between the public and private sector would widen in terms of wages. In other words, the wages of Saudis and non-Saudis would be completely different from one another. That is perhaps why street sweepers rely heavily on begging while the companies that hire them generate huge profits. The only loser here is our national economy.
It is no wonder that many Gulf businessmen are against having a minimum wage. Some of them claim that the minimum wage would have a negative impact on several sectors such as private schools, bakeries and others. However, we are able to restructure these sectors and help them to rely less on expatriate workers, hence reducing costs and expenses.
Not having a minimum wage is wrong, contradicts the teachings of Shariah and violates the rights of workers. We need to fix this situation.