117. Discrimination

Life isn’t fair.  This opening statement is a fact of life, not an attempt to instigate controversy.  In The West, and particularly in Used-to-be-Great Britain, we are no strangers to the equality brigade and the human rights brigade and just about every other brigade there is wagging their fingers and tutting.  Racism used to be ok, just like sexism and ageism, but as we hurtled towards the end of the 20th century with the invention of colour television and toothpaste, some people began to speak up and say “err…please don’t say that.”  And that is just super.

Despite some quarters of western media still blowing some things out of proportion, we have made massive efforts to reel in the racists and turn them into flower wearing ramblers who nurse bunny rabbits back to health.  Corporate big wigs with a fondness for capitalism and secretaries have come to accept that women in the workplace are not just there to make coffee and drop pencils, but that they can do any job a man can do too.  Ageism?  Pah!  These day’s you’re forced to work until you die anyway so no problems there.

So where does history fit into all of this?  Well, a few thousand years ago we were all given an equal start.  Homo-sapiens, Homo-simpsons…we all had access to rocks and water and it was up to us to come up with the best uses for them, a bit like Scrapheap Challenge.  Then, over the course of time the gulf between the various Homo classes became greater.  One band of brothers invented the wheel, another found some tablets with some commandments on them and things started to get a bit mad.

Anyway, when countries were invented some became better at invading than others, then we were able to harness electricity, then some other things happened and finally we arrived at today.  Because of hundreds of years worth of countless historical and economical factors, people from different countries expect a certain standard of living, and with that a certain wage.

So called “cheap labour” is as rife today as it was at the height of British imperialism, it’s just that these day’s the slaves are paid, so they become “employees” and when they cause mischief they are not flogged, but merely sent to Human Resources instead.  Things are at least going in the right direction.

Due to each nation’s own economic situation, different people of different nationalities are paid different wages, and in the UAE theses salaries are aimed to be just a teensy weensy bit higher than the basic level at home.  Obviously, Emirati’s get paid the most.  Next on the level is other GCC nationals like Saudi’s and Kuwaiti’s, then come us Westerners.  For most of us, our wages aren’t too different to what we would earn back home doing a similar job, it’s just that bottom end payments are cheaper so it appears to be more.  Next down we have people from Asian countries like some Pakistanis, maybe Moroccans, Syrians and certain Indians.  Then we have the folk from the former Eastern Bloc like The Ukraine, then other Indians, certain Africans and Filipinos.  Then we have the poor Patan’s from Pakistan and Afghans at the foot of this alarming pyramid.

The UAE finds itself in a tricky situation, being pretty much in the middle of the world it attracts people from all over.  Some are career driven Westerners who are here to broker deals between ADNOC and BP that are worth billions.  Some are just here because it’s an adventure.  The money is ok and they can enjoy the quality of life that the UAE offers…to some.  Then there are those who are here solely to provide for their families, and if they get fired, their families back home in Bangladesh starve.

I’m not going to start analysing the moral implications of the above, but rather turn my attention to an article published in the press today.  It highlighted the case of job adverts in the UAE and the prose that is usually adopted.  As you can imagine there are millions, well, three, people up in arms brandishing the “isms” and the “ists” bounders and cads with vehemence.

Hi-yo, Silver!  AWAY!

Hi-yo, Silver! AWAY!

The example given to us was “Wanted: qualified receptionist for a social media company. Only attractive women from the Philippines, Russia or Arab countries need apply.”  Whilst this is a bad example, I can kind of see one half of the point.  Let’s take Mr. Sulu as a case in point.  George Takei has come out – sorry – and said that he could never have played a Cowboy on the silver screen.  Most Asians agree, in the same way that Eddie Murphy could never have played a portrayal of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  Takei accepted that there was no way you could have a Japanese Cowboy drawing against John Wayne at high noon.  If he saw an ad looking for someone to play Wyatt Earp, then he would move on.  Then there’s me, I have come to accept that I will never be a Ballerina.  So when the director of The Nutcracker is next casting, I will sadly have to go to the pub instead.

If you are posting a job advert over here, then you have to know your audience, and who will come and work on the money you have on offer.  I doubt very much that you will get many Swiss responding to your ad looking for a maid.  Likewise I doubt you will get many Patan’s applying to be Hedgefund Managers.  If you didn’t specify you would be inundated with unsuitable applications.

Ultimately, no one comes here to earn less money than they would at home.  Perhaps that just goes to show how bad some people have it in places like Bangladesh or parts of the Philippines.  But really, very few people will say “I could earn more at home”, and if they do say that, then they go back.

Many job adverts over here are usually posted without mentioning the salary, and that I fear is the problem.  It’s been a while since UAE Uncut has come up with a solution, but why not make legislation that every advert must specify a wage?  Then only those who are willing to work for that wage will apply.  This will save you the need for including racial slurs like “No Egyptians” or “No Fuzzy Wuzzies.”

But what about ads – like the example above – that specify only “attractive” ladies need bother to apply?  Well, to be quite frank, if you actually go ahead and apply for this job then really you’re an idiot.  What are the odds that you are going to work for a decent, respectable firm with a professional, understanding manager?  Anyone with a brain would just gloss over such a crass advertisement.

In Great Britain such discrimination against nationalities is illegal, whereas here in the UAE the process is merely trying to balance itself.  If everyone earned the same money, whether it was a lot or not, then sadly we would all be communists, and that’s far worse.  Of course there are plenty of Indians who are prominent businessmen, and there are plenty of Egyptian women who run their own companies with tremendous success over here.  There will always be a mix, and that’s the problem.  You just don’t know until you have employed someone whether you’re paying them too much or too little.  There’s no point jumping up and down denouncing poorly worded job ads, because the people who wrote them wouldn’t understand a politically correct one.

Sometimes the screening works and I stand by my belief that Clayton Moore made a far better Lone Ranger than George Takei would have…

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2 thoughts on “117. Discrimination

  1. I’d no idea you had aspirations to perform in the ballet!

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