Saudi rights watchdog accused of denying employee rights
A number of employees at the National Society for Human Rights’ (NSHR) Makkah branch said the society has not given them any pay rises or allowances over the past few years, Makkah Daily reported.
The employees, who preferred to remain anonymous, said they decided to go public because the NSHR has not shown any appreciation for their service and performance.
Some of them have been working for seven years on the same monthly salary of SR3,000 ($800) while others have worked as volunteers but have not been given any appreciation certificates, it was claimed.
One employee said: “The society was established to protect, not take away people’s rights.
“If the society fails to give its employees their rights, how it can advocate the rights of others?”
A legal researcher who has worked seven years for NSHR said she and her colleagues took action because they were upset with the way the society treated them.
She said: “Most of us handed in their resignations and found another job.
“But we’re still angry at the society because of its work environment that does not reflect its mission as a human rights advocate.”
She said she feels “sad” every time she sees an NSHR spokesman making a press statement denouncing the violation of human rights while its employees are being deprived of their rights.
Unfortunately, NSHR supervisors do not have any powers over this matter, she added.
The researcher said the NSHR does not allow employees to attend free training courses during or outside work hours and they do not receive any annual pay rises.
“Employees need to take English courses in order to communicate with non-Arabic speaking nationals and listen to their complaints.”
The women’s department does not meet safety requirements as there are no emergency exits and entrances for the elderly and disabled, she noted.
There are more expatriate employees than Saudis, according to one of the complainants, who worked for five years for the NSHR.
Another grievance is the lack of communication between NSHR branches and the top management.
The employee said: “During my five years of work here the representatives of the top management visited this branch twice.
“The NSHR budget reaches SR100 million. If this money is not spent on improving the performance of its branches and annual increments, then where does it go?
“The top management always refers complaints to branch supervisors and claim that those supervisors have all powers needed to deal with any complaint but this is not true.
“The top management is the only decision-maker.”
A lawyer who has consulted for the NSHR for a year has called on the society to design a clear salary scale with annual increments in order to prevent employees from leaving for other jobs.
Low salaries and incentives will not make employees stay in the same job, the lawyer said.
“The society does not give appreciation certificates to employees who carry out tasks outside the society such as visiting prisons and checking up on the condition of inmates. “Besides, the experience certificates given to employees do not have the NSHR President’s signature or that of the branch.”
An NSHR source said the Makkah branch employs people who do not have legal backgrounds and not qualified to hold sensitive positions in a city that has a lot of cases of human rights violations.
Makkah Daily called NSHR President Mufleh Al-Qahtani for a comment.
He told the newspaper that his secretary would call them and give them an email address to send all necessary documents in order for him to respond to the accusations.
He also threatened to sue Makkah if they published the story.