Saudis angered by minister's 'one-hour work day' comments

Saudis angered by minister's 'one-hour work day' comments
Saudi civil servants are outraged by comments from their boss that they work one hour a day, and this could drive the kingdom to bankruptcy.
2 min read
25 Oct, 2016
Minister Khaled al-Araj claimed that some civil servants work little more than an hour [AFP]

Two ministers in Saudi Arabia have sparked outrage in the kingdom by saying that a poor work ethic among Saudis civil servants could drive the country to bankruptcy.

Minister of Civil Service Khaled al-Araj also claimed that civil servants pick up handsome pay cheques but work little more than an hour a day, during a debate on 8 O’clock with Dawood.

On the same show, Muhammad al-Tuwaijri, deputy minister of economy and planning, warned that austerity measures will have to be introduced in order to avoid to stop Saudi depleting its reserves.

"If oil prices keep declining and the Saudi government does not take action with economic and austerity measures... bankruptcy in the kingdom is inevitable within three to four years," Tuwaijri said.

In a more recent episode of the show on Sunday, the minister said that using a "stern phrase" like "bankruptcy" was a misjudgement.

Despite his clarification, the minister attracted the ire of many Saudi workers of social media platforms. Among other hashtags, Twitter users used the tag "hour with al-Araj" to mock the comment about one-hour work days.

"There is no accurate Key Performance Indicator [KPI] to measure the individual performance to provide accurate individual productivity rate," Abdullah Sukkar, a human resources manager in Saudi Arabia, told the Saudi Gazette.

Senior Saudi legal adviser Abdullah al-Ghamdi told the same publication that "one-hour workday is an exaggeration and insulting to employees."

Across Saudi Arabia, employers and authorities are introducing a range of measures and changes in order to aid the country's squeezed finances.

Earlier this month, the kingdom abandoned using the Islamic lunar calendar to schedule pay for government workers in a bid to save on costs.

In late September, cabinet ministers' salaries were cut and public sector bonuses were scrapped as part of the same cost-saving drive.