Sunday, August 27, 2006

Old and Unpaid

Some things just don’t change. Not here, anyway. I read Ladislao Reyes story and just wanted to cry – with him – for him. For 18 year Mr. Reyes has been a truck driver for Al-Shark Transport [hey, what’s in a name?]. Some five months ago he filed a complaint with the Labor Department to get back wages, his end-of-service benefits, his vacation tickets, iqama and medical expenses. Since filing his claim, not only has Mr. Reyes NOT received his salary [oh, yeah, big surprise, here!], but he has been forced to vacate his home and is now living on hand-outs from friends and fellow Filipinos. Apparently a good hearted Saudi national has taken pity on him and has now given him a place to stay – it has no amenities [i.e., electricity] – but something is better than nothing.

Mr. Reyes worked for a meager salary and has achieved his goal of putting all five of his children through college, which explains why he has worked so long past the [mandatory, which is sixty, or so I thought] retirement age.

The trucking company claims that they owe Mr. Reyes nothing and that they have documentation to prove this. Interestingly, enough, however, they did offer a settlement to Mr. Reyes during earlier negotiations, first of 10,000 Riyals and then 20,000 Riyals, provided the claim with the Labor Department would be withdrawn. Mr. Reyes has refused the settlement – from a company that supposedly owes his nothing but was willing to give him something.

The story says that there was a hearing last Saturday [August 19th], but that “for the second time” the employer did not show up. Another hearing was scheduled for yesterday [August 26th]. It is all too common that these cases before the Labor Courts drag on and on and on. Apparently the employer is not “required” to appear, and when the employer – or the employer’s representative – doesn’t appear the case just gets rescheduled.

It could be years before this case gets resolved. Let’s hope not, for Mr. Reyes sake. Quite a contrast, I’d say, to this case, which was filed on May 7, 2006, was “looked at” on May 11, 2006, and almost immediately resolved. Surely it would be preposterous to think nationality plays any part in how the Labor Department determines and issues verdicts in their cases. Oh. My. Gosh. I didn’t just type that, here, did I?!?

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