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Textile merchants, govt harden stand on feminization

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Textile merchants dealing with women’s fabrics in Riyadh are intending to form an alliance to protest the Labor Ministry’s decision to feminize textile shops by the end of 2016 and are soliciting the assistance of a lawyer to litigate on their behalf.

However, the ministry stressed that it would not back down from its stand of feminizing these shops as it is an important national initiative and that those who refuse to implement the decision would face punitive action.

An owner of a commercial center in Riyadh demanded a sum of SR1,000 from the tenants of his shops to pay toward the lawyer’s fees for contesting the decision of feminizing the shops. “The Ministry of Labor’s decision to feminize shops that sell female items including textiles and clothing has affected us adversely as we were prevented from selling the merchandise or directly supervising our properties,” he said. 

Fahd Al-Takhifi, assistant secretary-general for special programs in the ministry, iterated that the ministry would not offer any concession in this regard. “The decision has been made and will be implemented according to the announced dates,” he said adding that “we announced this decision after consultations with and the support of businessmen.”

Al-Takhifi said that businessmen in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah had been notified of the future implementation of the project during the second phase of the decision. The ministry has published the draft law on the “Together” portal, to elicit opinions of businessmen and citizens. “The ministry will not go back on its decision as it is in the national interest,” Al-Takhifi said.

He said a letter had been dispatched to the Council of Saudi Chambers around the Kingdom informing businessmen who wish to discuss the decision to set a date for a meeting with the ministry’s officials. “However, we only received two applications from two chambers of commerce and those were not from textile merchants but businessmen,” he noted.

The third phase of the feminization project will include women working in shops selling female perfumes, maternity wear, abayas, shoes, socks and bags, in addition to readymade garments and cloth.

Many Bangladeshi will be affected by this decision.

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