News of Emarat’s horrific treatment of their staff has reached the public ear after 24-year old Indian resident, Santosh Kumar (name changed), lost his job as a petrol station attendant after a Dh10 note was found inside his socks.
Kumar was subjected to a strip-search to see if he had pocketed any tips during his day’s work. On refusing to remove his pants, his supervisor asked him to jump five times to check if he was hiding any coins. Another Emarat employee revealed that there have been times when attendants have been made to remove all their clothes, even their underwear, to check for hidden tips.
In an investigative report conducted by the Gulf News’ XPRESS team, they found that Emirates General Petroleum regularly subjects its employees to this kind of treatment as the company policy demands that all customer tips should go to the company and not the employees.
Supervisors are authorized to do random strip-searches even while serving customers or on the ride back the living quarters. “They made it clear during our training. But since our salaries are low, the temptation is always there,” said Kumar who joined the company on a Dh1,000 salary.
Emarat was quick to comment on the issue, saying their staff are aware of the regulations and are expected to follow them to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction. They also said they that tips encourage discrimination among staff and should be handed back to the company so that it can be reinvested in funds for staff welfare.
Legally, however, the practice of stip-searching employees is a violation of human rights and dignity. It is illegal and only the police are authorised to do it. Other major stations like Eppco, Enoc and Adnoc do not have such policies and staff are never frisked.
Despite the humiliating treatment, employees keep looking for new ways to sneak their tips, “We genuinely believe we are entitled to the tips we get for our good service,” said Vaishna, another attendant at an Emarat station.
The incident has caused a stir in societal circles. A petition is being circulated online to boycott Emarat stations and give Kumar his job and salary back. Concerns of ill treatment of ethnic minorities, especially Indians with blue-collar jobs, are also on the rise.