Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Mean Companies Suck

The other day, a very good friend of mine called me, distraught about her job. I am one of those people who empathize with anyone who is being treated unfairly. She only recently started working at a small company and she has already discovered the main concern of many expats working here in Kuwait: lack of job security. Hire an expat, fire an expat, hire someone else for WAY less money. It usually happens after the Western person has been in Kuwait for about a year. Could be less – depending.

Of course, I am generalizing, but unfortunately, it happens a lot.

It is happening now at a very large logistics company with lots of Americans on staff. The homeys are asked to leave and quietly slip away because they are too worried about rocking the boat and potentially getting themselves into trouble.

My advice to my dear friend - toughen up and always have a Plan B. You can't take it personally (although it is, you have to pretend for a while that it isn't). You have got to network in Kuwait. You have got to know what your options are should something happen to you suddenly. Feel out the market. Find places that you would like to go to work if something happens to your current job. Determine which companies are working on the interesting/profitable projects in your field. Talk to people there. Mingle. Network. Cover your ass.

Know your rights.

All of a sudden, a whole lot of companies are "extending" the 100 day employee probation period – thinking that, should they fire the employee at say 130 days, the employee won't know the difference. By Kuwait Labor Law, a company can ONLY give an employee a 100 day probation period. No more. After 100 days, they are guaranteed rights (like not being terminated a the drop of a dime).

Do you know what happens to your credit cards if you are a Westerner here and lose your job? (Credit cards which you have obtained from the bank where your salary is being deposited into and debited directly from your account each month.) If your salary isn't transferred by EFT to the bank on the usual transfer date, whatever is in your account is immediately taken to cover your credit card (since they are all "secured" cards here). Then, your credit card is cancelled until your new employer provides you with a salary certificate and the first electronic funds transfer transaction takes place. In other words, you will have no money to get back to where ever you came from (unless you have your money in another account or overseas).

Do you know what happens if you are fired and a company doesn't feel like paying you your settlement? You have to take them to court. It may take years to actually receive any money. If you don't know of any good lawyers in Kuwait, you should find out. Establish a relationship with a lawyer just incase. Go have coffee with a lawyer and make friends. Send him/her a card on Eid or special occasions. Make them remember you should anything ever happen.

Plan B!!!!


bitzer said...

I'm glad I'm not an... oh. Damn, yo.

For once, I'm glad I work for the army.

jashanmal said...

In a world engulfed with jealousy, envy and greed, its pretty difficult to find someone that would give you an advice like the one you gave...anyway...the point that i am trying to make is that you should always have something to fall back on...As for labour laws in Kuwait I am ashamed to say they're out-dated, incomplete and need serious implementations...Some of the companies here enslave their employees drain them til nothing is left and them ditch them in a dumpster ikhhh it really breaks my heart to see people's dreams in a decent livin shattered quicker than an eye blink....really it does.....


Desert Girl said...

Thank you for the compliments, Jashanmal. Unfortunately, employment games happen everywhere in the world. You just have to know what to look for in your neighborhood. In the US, it is relatively easy to find a job: There are a multitude of temporary placement agencies and you can work at a different location every week/month if you want to. It is a little more difficult in Kuwait.

Closet Diva said...

in the USA its easy to find a job...for AMERICANS!! For Non -americans without a green card it is nearly impossible to find a job; definitely more impossible than for expats in kuwait.

A~ said...

It's even hard for Americans to find jobs in the states. The economy is in the toilet.
After being in college for four years, no temp agency will hire me... because i've been in college! It equates to a lack of work history. It sucks.
It seems you gotta be hooked up, no matter where you are.

Visionary said...

a lot of things suck....! I really feel sorry for a lot of people (including myself) when it comes to work almost everyone is not happy for different reasons, but the major effect is that one always feels threatened, so changing jobs is a temperory solution, however, soon will drop down on the same curve. The pay is not high enough, the spending is always euqal to you paycheck and so on, Where if the pay check is high enough you will have better leverage and elasticity. Guess what ? the problem is not solved this way...! You will face a lot of ediot managers killing your success & motivation, because your pay check is too high. I think the best solution is to be an owner of your own company, I know it requires a lot, but don't overestimate it. By the way, why don't we think of establishing a company of some kind... think of an idea ... I got the setups..all invited...!

William said...

Amen to that. Great advice. People should pay that attention and keep it in their minds. Social networking is more valuable then education in most places. That's my personal view at least. Some people aren't good at it though. I think anyone can learn though, I really do.