By Kevin Stoda, in Kuwait
As more and more Americans are forced to go abroad to earn proper wages for proper work provided, it behooves all Americans to seek higher international or cross-border standards of pay, performance and work place treatment around the globe.
The first section of this report of mine will focus on some negative workplace and job-hunting conditions outside of the U.S.A. The second part will remind readers of some general standards which are already well-recognized as legally binding in many nations but which are nevertheless not being enforced.ADVERTISMENTS FOR JOBS One important caveat is that most of the following examples come from the teaching field which I have worked in for the past 2 ¼ decades. I have worked only about 5 years within the borders of the United States during this same period.
Americans, who not aware of the hard realities of working abroad, may be shocked to discover that the following activities in placing job-ads and hiring employees are in practice in many different regions of the globe.
(3) Pervasive throughout Asia are advertisements for positions arranged proscribed per nationality. For example, nations in the Middle East prefer South Asians or Filipinos as maids, au pair, or nannies. The advertisements in the Middle East and in these Southern Asian national’s homelands make clear to all that only people’s of certain nationalities need apply.
There are even pay scales per race or nationhood for various industries, businesses and job classifications. In some countries this is even considered illegal but is pervasive all the same.
Warning: This does not mean that each and every company in a particular country discriminates about nationality. For example, I know Indian accountants who actually earn just as well as European accountants in the same firm here in Kuwait. However, in some countries or companies, this equality is the result of some Asians holding Western-earned university diplomas, i.e. these degrees from the west do trump race in many countries outside of North America.
(4) It is appropriate to note that other forms of reverse discrimination also exist outside the U.S.A. Companies in Malaysia and in the Middle East find that nationals (citizens)of Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and for most of Malaysia, need to hire according to given quotas—regardless to whether they are private internationally-owned or locally-based firms. This means that private companies are absolutely forced to hire a certain number of unqualified applicants each year. I mention this because even a fairly qualified job seeker may have to wait-in-line for employment due to preferential quotas based on race or nationality.
In Kuwait and in the UAE there are even opportunistic nationals bouncing to, from and in-between several companies’ offices each week while double dipping.
That means these particular nationals simply clock in for a few hours, bide there time, go out for coffee and never come back for the rest of the day. Why? These employees may have to go to a second or third firm that day (or week) and earn their pay by sipping coffee, checking their e-mail, and moving on. Meanwhile, other nationals simply choose “to work” from home.
Simply put--western or Asian employers turn their head at this regional practice and simply write off these quotas in some fashion as just another part of doing business there.
(5) Finally, for most jobs in any foreign country, one has to be prepared to answer medical questions and undertake medical tests—sometimes annually. This makes it fairly hard for people who are handicapped, disabled, or have a chronic or reoccurring illness to work abroad in many lands.
Due to the stringency which some Asian governments apply this medical testing, most Americans and other non-nationals or citizens with disabilities or reoccurring illness need to lie about their medications and health problems. Others have to conceal new or on-going illnesses and heart problems by paying all of their medical expenses out of pocket or by flying to a neighboring country to get treated.
Recently, one former Kuwaiti colleague of mine marveled at the ingenuity used by one Canadian-born worker at his university. She had managed to work for two different educational institutions for several years without anyone discovering that she had had hepatitis. (She would have normally been shipped out of the country on the next plane had any Kuwaiti official or school official found this out in a timely fashion. Just last month, some 15 Egyptians were shipped out for this illness.)
I use this example of hepatitis because I, myself, was once diagnosed with “hepatitis” while living in Nicaragua just over a decade ago.
However, I was never told to leave that particular country. What is more—my body has proven to have the ability to lose all of the anti-bodies associated with hepatitis, including those created by the hepatitis vaccine I had taken several times.