Pandemic or labour crises?

 Bader al Kiyumi (baderalkiyumi@hotmail.com)

Both the private sector and investors are considered to be the main partners who help in building a nation. These two sectors play a vital role in providing job vacancies.
As we know, the private sector still depends on government support through the liquidity that it provides in the local market.

The liquidity aims to make a high volume of activity in the market including projects.

As a result of insolvency, a large number of employees were faced with dismissal from their positions. Fortunately, the majority of the companies have endured the pain due to the pandemic.
On the other hand, during negotiations between companies and their Omani employees, most of the employees agreed to reduce their wages or to go on vacation as per the Supreme Committee’s ruling. Personally, I liked what one employer described his employees when they agreed to reduce their wages: “They are loyal to their company”.

On the other hand, there are employers who did not take their responsibilities to protect their employees and fired their staff and did not try to think outside of the box.

Recently, during my visit to the Labour Department, I happened to meet by chance a person named Abdullah who was fired from his job. This 29-year-old narrated his story to the Labour Inspector. He had worked in the family business company for more than seven years. However, they received a call from the company during the lockdown requesting him to come for a meeting.

When he went to his office he was shocked to be informed by his management that the owners had decided to close the company. “I completed my engagement for marriage last February and I already have been informed by my wife that our official marriage would be next October. Unfortunately, I have taken the decision to postpone the marriage until I find a job,” he mentions sadly.

I had a quick discussion with the labour inspector who confirmed that the Ministry of Manpower has switched off the system and does not allow employers to terminate their Omani employees’ contracts. The ministry has taken this initiative aiming to control the employers and not to let companies go towards dismissing their staff during the pandemic period.

Personally, I agree with the call to convert family businesses into joint-stock companies because we did not hear about joint-stock firms that fired their employees during the pandemic period.

The problem with some of the family business is that it is not only during Covid-19 but has its roots from several years back.
The change will help to ensure the sustainability of these companies. The companies will be under corporate governance and have to follow certain rules including legal reserve.

However, according to many experts, the main reasons behind the unwillingness of family business owners to convert their companies into joint-stock companies is the fear of some that this will lead to severe control by government agencies such as the stock exchange, MSM and others.

In addition, the accountability and fines that may result, as have happened to some companies earlier.

However, I wish Abdullah gets hold of a suitable job to go ahead with his marriage and family life.