Indian workers in Gulf countries appear to be the most disgruntled employees in the Middle-East among all expatriates, a survey conducted by the Arabian Business website has revealed.
According to the ArabianBusiness.com salary survey, 69 percent of workers emigrating from India and Pakistan are most dissatisfied with their current employment and likely to quit their jobs this year.
Only 16 percent of Indian and 13 percent of Pakistani workers said they were less likely to switch jobs, the website said.
Gulf businesses face a tough year ahead trying to retain staff, with more than two-thirds of employees indicating they are more likely to leave their job this year than in 2007, the report stated.
According to the report, a sharp decline in job loyalty could be seen across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, led by Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Almost two-third of employees in Oman said that were more likely to quit their job this year, with only 11 percent saying they were more likely see the year out in their present position.
In Saudi Arabia 69 percent of employees said they were looking for another job, while in the UAE the figure stood at 68 percent, the survey said.
The report noted that in the UAE, South Africans, at 71 percent, were more likely to change companies in the coming year while in Saudi Arabia, expatriates from Britain were the most likely to seek a new job in 2008 with more than one in 10 indicating an increased likelihood of finding new employment.
The UAE hosts about 2.7 million expatriate workers, 80 percent of whom are in the booming construction sector.
Interestingly, Bahrain registered the highest level of company loyalty, but over half of employees still said they planned a job switch this year, compared to just 20 percent that said they were more likely to stay put.
With the currencies of most of the GCC countries being pegged to the tumbling US dollar, the attractiveness of the region for expatriate workers has gone down in the last couple of years.
The dollar hit record lows against major global currencies last year, dropping almost 12 percent against the euro and the Indian rupee, and 2.8 percent against the British pound.
Inflation surged to record highs across the Gulf last year, hitting 14 percent in Qatar, 7.6 percent in Oman, 6.2 percent in Kuwait, 6 percent in Saudi Arabia and 4.9 percent in Bahrain, according to the report.
In the UAE, inflation hit a record 19-year high of 9.3 percent in 2006. According to analysts, it may soar up to 12 percent this year.
The survey seeks to identify key issues for both companies and their employees in the region, which faces a range of issues from fair wages and working conditions to increased competition in the job market.
More than 7000 workers responded to the online survey.
There are around five million expatriate Indians across the six Gulf nations. In total, there are around 12 million expatriate workers in the region currently and their number is estimated to go up to 30 million by 2010.
The rising costs of living combined with fall in the value of the dollar has severely eroded the real wages that an overseas worker receives, Indian Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said recently.
Low wages, poor work environment and lack of proper health and safety standards have led to mass protests by workers in the Gulf nations over the years.
Last week, over 1300 expatriate workers helping to build a luxury coastal development in Bahrain went on strike to demand higher wages and better health facilities.
The workers are employed by the contracting firm GP Zachariades to work on the $6 billion Durrat al-Bahrain development project in the south of the wealthy Gulf archipelago.
According to media reports, the workers currently receive a monthly pay of just 57 Bahraini dinars (approx. $151).
The workers are reportedly demanding 100 Bahraini dinars in the lines of minimum wage limit for unskilled workers for all GCC states that was proposed recently by the Indian Government and is likely to be implemented in a phased manner by India in cooperation with the Gulf nations.
However, local construction company managers said the minimum wage decision would have a major impact in the real estate market.
A minimum wages system will have a major effect in the cost factor in construction industry. This will increase the cost of building and thus affect the real estate market throughout the Gulf, said Abdul Majeed, manager of Power Construct, a contracting company in Ras Al Khaimah.
We look forward to resolving this issue at the earliest, but we are not considering increasing their salaries. They already have signed contracts agreeing on the current salaries, Durrat al-Bahrain's project manager Keith Jones said.
The Durrat al-Bahrain Company is 50 percent owned by the Bahrain government, while the other 50 percent is owned by Kuwait Finance House.
In an effort too resolve the issue, Bahrain's Labour Minister Dr. Majeed Al Alawi has issued an order to set up of a committee, headed by Under-Secretary Shaikh Abdulrahman bin Abdulla Al Khalifa.
Earlier, in March 2006, 2,500 laborers rioted in the UAE at the building site of Burj Dubai, which is still under construction but has already become the world's tallest skyscraper.
At that time, the incident prompted the New York-based Human Rights Watch to call on the UAE government to end abusive labor practices and describe labor conditions as less than human.