Teachers, schools threaten to sue Saudi gov't

Private schools threaten legal action over snap decision to impose minimum wages
(Getty Images)
By Courtney Trenwith
Thu 14 Feb 2013 10:23 AM

A committee representing private girls’ schools in Saudi Arabia is threatening to take the Ministry of Education to court over its decision to impose a minimum wage for teachers with two weeks’ notice, according to local media.

Schools have been ordered to pay teachers a minimum monthly salary of SAR5,000 (US$1,333) and a transport allowance of SAR600.

Student registration or transfer has been frozen until schools implement the directive.

The ministry has warned schools would be fined SAR5,000 per teacher if the decision was not implemented within two weeks. It would ask the Ministry of Labouir to stop providing key services to schools who had not complied within a month and if the decision was not implemented before the end of the year, the school would be closed down.

Numerous schools, particularly those that cater for girls, claim the increased salaries would force them to raise fees to an unaffordable level, forcing students to leave. That would eventually lead to schools closing down and put additional pressure on public schools.

However, the ministry said the Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF) would pay 50 percent of the new salaries for two years before schools had to depend on their own resources.

The chairman of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry committee of private schools for girls, Mohammed Yusuf, said he had been attempting to negotiate with the ministry for more than two months without success.

Its position was “unfair”, he reportedly told Saudi Gazette.

“If the ministry continues this position we will go to the Court of Grievances,” Yusuf was quoted as saying.

“We are keen to implement decisions and royal decrees while the ministry persists on doing what it deems is right without looking at the other party.

“Instead of being our supporter, the ministry has opted to be our enemy.”

Meanwhile, about 240 unemployed female teaching graduates are reportedly planning to file a lawsuit against the Ministry of Civil Service for allegedly failing to hire them.

Lawyer Amr Al-Azyarbi told Al-Sharq newspaper he had initiated procedures to file the case on behalf of the women.

“The graduates’ grievance is that they have been waiting for jobs for a long time even though their classmates and juniors have already been absorbed. Therefore, they are seeking immediate appointment,” Al-Sharq newspaper quoted Al-Azyarbi as saying.

In Riyadh on Monday, about 40 female teaching graduates protested against what they claimed was a long delay in employing them.

Al-Sharq reported they demanded an immediate royal order for their appointment.

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