Women cashiers ‘Centrepoint’ of jobs

JEDDAH: The phenomenon of employing women cashiers in supermarkets is catching on with Centrepoint shopping store now joining the growing list of employers.

Panda and then Marhaba supermarkets were the first to employ women cashiers, but Centrepoint has gone one step ahead by placing women cashiers at check outs for T-shirts, pants and accessories for women.

The Centrepoint store on Prince Sultan Street, visited by Arab News, has women cashiers in a separate section. The women were busy checking out and packing the goods from the women customers.
All employed as cashiers expressed their happiness at holding this job, many saying that the happiness was for not only getting this job, but also finding one that is of their liking. The fact that there is a new-found emphasis to work could be gauged by the superstore’s offer to the employee. Centrepoint pays an average salary of SR2,500 a month with health insurance for Saudi women cashiers while the non-Saudi women working on packing get SR600 a month.

One of the Saudi woman cashiers who started at customer services with the same store before being placed at the counter said: “This is more to my liking than the previous job I had. I have a bachelor’s in science and was a teacher in a private school. The job itself was not appealing, nor was the low salary and bad treatment, but this a completely new experience.”

Another employee said after two unsatisfying jobs one at a hospital and the other at a makeup shop, she tried to continue her studies at university, but each time she encountered registration problems.

“With only a high-school degree I had few opportunities, and this job is very satisfying,” she said.

The mahrams (male guardians) of women shoppers were seen standing outside area waiting for their spouses. A store official said that men who come with their families can come inside the area but the majority of the men preferred to wait outside.

Keeping a strict watch was a security personnel, whose task was to prevent men without families entering this area. It also fell on them to call out on the microphone the names of family members if the mahrams were not waiting outside the area.

A woman cashier, who revealed that some of the women working here are also studying and taking care of their families, lauded the stores for giving them this independence. “Women are now taking care of things. It is not like the old days when daddy would do everything,” she added.

The women work from 4:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. and during that period they meet different types of women customers. “Some of them prefer to check in their lingerie here, while taking the other items to the regular check-out counters, others seek to pay off for everything at one stop. But women in general are welcoming this move. It is giving the customers an extra choice that was not there,” an employee said.

A group of women customers, while welcoming this move by Centrepoint, said that they would love to see women cashiers in all stores. Corporate sales manager at Centrepoint Mohammed Hattan said that his company began employing women based on the approval they received from the Ministry of Labor, adding, that for a year now they have been working on allocating a place for women and training them for the job.

Hattan said Saudi women cashiers are proving to be more punctual and committed when compared to men. “When we first began Saudization, we found it difficult to train Saudi men and employing them because they did not concentrate and tended not to come on time. The case is totally the opposite when it comes to women, they learn quickly and prove to be extra-punctual,” he said.

Hattan also showed Arab News a sample of a uniform they would soon be implementing. The uniform is an abaya decorated with golden lines and a simple scarf with the center’s logo. For now the cashiers are allowed to wear abayas of their own choice.

Women are also working as cashiers at theme parks at Jeddah’s Corniche. Al-Shallal, one of the parks with women cashiers, has been employing women for the past four years. Ahmad Dirgam, the operation manager of the park, said the only problem that women face here are the working hours: from 5 p.m. until 1 a.m, on regular days and as late as 3 a.m. on weekends.

Dirgam said they do not oblige women to cover their faces and leave it to their personal freedom, adding it was easy for them to employ women because they have a women-only day every week. Women at Al-Shallal were seen working as supervisors and cashiers, selling makeup accessories, food, toys, flowers, and even music cassettes.

The women wear lab coats with different colors based on the tasks assigned. The average salaries of women are around SR2,200 along with medical and social insurance. – Arabnews