//Gulf workers show signs of frustration over wages

Gulf workers show signs of frustration over wages

By Robert Ditcham, Gulf News, 19 Feb  2007

Dubai: A widening discrepancy between wage hikes and soaring living costs in Gulf countries has created a "disgruntled" workforce and a "volatile" job market.

This is the main finding of a GCC study of 270,000 employees across 20 industry categories conducted by online jobsite Bayt.com and market research firm YouGovSiraj.

Click here to see the 'GCC salary survey' fact file (pdf)

The study indicates that employers in Qatar and Kuwait were the Gulf's most generous when awarding salary increases last year. Wages in the two countries climbed by 17 per cent on average, relegating the UAE to second place at 15 per cent.

However, extra money awarded to UAE-based workers was most likely absorbed by added living expenses, the report indicates, with the country's cost of living shooting up by a staggering 28 per cent in 2006 – four per cent higher than the regional average.

"The rapidly growing regional economy is creating new human resources challenges, and employers and employees alike need to understand their implications," said Rabea Ataya, CEO, Bayt.com.

Despite double-digit wage raises in many employment sectors, most professionals want more, a sign of frustration over pay, says Ataya. Employees in the UAE and Bahrain consider themselves the most deserving, expecting a huge 33 per cent wage hike.

Employees were least demanding in Saudi Arabia, where the average 'deserved' pay rise was 27 per cent. Overall, public sector employees in the Gulf feel the most unsung, claiming they justified a pay hike of 39 per cent on average in 2006.

Looking at specific employee categories, the banking and finance sector awarded the most generous raises, increasing salaries on average by 19.5 per cent. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals (excluding doctors) received 11.2 per cent more pay last year.

The "volatile" nature of the GCC's workforce is reflected by statistics revealing a strong desire to change country or return to a worker's country of origin, according to the report.

In Qatar, 37 per cent of respondents said they would consider going back to their home country or relocating in the Gulf to boost pay. Despite the UAE's cost of living, nearly half of respondents said Dubai is their preferred place of work.

These findings were supported by recruitment firm Macdonald & Company, which conducted employment research into the real estate sector specifically – an industry where average GCC wages for development and technical roles rose by 15 per cent last year, the company said