Unofficial workers suffering
Around 70,000 unofficial workers in Yemen, who have been promised that they will be officially employed, suffer from harsh financial circumstances due to low salaries and precarious positions, according to Mohammed Qaneen, head of the Unofficial Workers Department at the Civil Service Ministry.
They work in governmental facilities, including those handling education, health, media and other service departments, but with temporary contracts with no full legal rights and incentives. They are recruited with the hope to be fully hired sometime later.
Jar-Allah said that she has worked in Sana'a University for three years. She teaches English, and at the end of the semester she makes only YR 17,000 (less than $80) for 20 hours of work.
"For twelve years I've been waiting to see my name on the official employees' list," said Iman Yasser, an unofficial employee who works at Zainab school in Sana'a.
She pointed out that her name was once listed on an official employee roster. However, her name was deleted from the roster without reason.
Unofficial employees face contradictions in their treatment: they work full-time, just like an official employee. However, their salary is less than half that of official employees.
Nada Al-Wajeh, an unofficial employee at Sana'a University, said sadly: "I always enter my office to find that other employees have moved my desk to another office, and the situation remains like that, because I'm an unofficial employee."
Hamza Al-Hamadi, an unofficial employee in Sana’a, pointed out that in his position he could be fired at any time without warning and without cause. He explained that there is discrimination against unofficial workers.
Most of the young unofficial employees suffer from insufficient salaries, especially for those who are married and are sustaining families. Searching for another job while working part-time is often their only option in order to cover their expenses.
"Now I work two different jobs that cover only my own immediate needs, and thus I haven't been able to finish my university study," said Al-Hamadi.
Iman Yasser said that her salary is not spent on her own needs, but mainly goes to help support her family's living costs, along with her father's salary.
Amani Al-Ansi, an unofficial employee at the Disabled Care and Rehabilitation Fund in Sana'a, said that her salary covers only her transportation expenses to the job, and her pocket money. She added that she couldn't buy anything aside from immediate necessities, or save a single rial.
"The low salary forces unofficial employees to do illegal things in order to earn more money," said Al-Hamadi.
He explained that due to low salaries, they take bribes from citizens and trick their managers into signing reward letters, or they take their relatives' compensation money for sick days.
Mohammed Jamil, an unofficial teacher in Dhamar governorate, and father of three children, indicated that he works two jobs but still can't provide the essentials for his family. He added that sometimes he finds an extra shift at one of his jobs at night or on holidays.
Role of the government
The government promised to officially hire all the unofficial employees in 2011, and the Ministry of Finance said it would bridge the difference with official employees’ salaries.
The government in 2011 issued a decree to not accept any new names on the list of unofficial employees.
"The decisions were issued, but the conditions that Yemen experienced last year have suspended their implementation between the previous and the present government," said Ali Al-Shar'abi, who works at the Employees’ Affairs Administration at the Ministry of Civil Service.
He added that all the decisions regarding unofficial employees are related to what the new Minister of Civil Service decides.
For his part, Mohammed Abdul-Qawi, who works for the Sana'a University Workers Syndicate, told the Yemen Times that a number of unofficial employees have been hired officially in the place of retired workers, but added that the syndicate seeks to find other solutions for unofficial employees' challenges.