Staff of petrol stations and the accompanying shops are an alert lot. They are even wary of taking small tips from generous customers as their employers resort to strip search at the drop of a hat.
Most outlets in fuel stations conduct daily inventory and even a minor discrepancy will lead to strip search of employees. Boys at fuel stations in the UAE also complain of nude searches before they return home after work.
“There are many customers who steal, but if items are missing we are bound to pay the company. Our salary is just Dh1,400 and some months we end up paying part of this paltry salary for missing items,” said a counter staff preferring anonymity.
Interestingly, CCTV cameras are installed in all petrol stations and accompaying shops. Yet such humiliating acts have become the norm.
A supervisor at one of the petrol stations said: "We have security cameras in strategic places to detect fraud and disputes with customers. In case of any major incidents, we retrieve camera footage and solve the problem. However, not all areas in the shop or petrol pump are covered by security cameras and, therefore, body searches are essential to control theft.”
Another supervisor said: “We are very strict. We demand utmost honesty and loyalty from our employees. Only if there is a major theft or goof up, we strip search women staff,” she said.
One of the boys said: "We get only a small salary. Our respite is the tips that customers give. Some customers give us Dh100-Dh200 and ask us to keep the change. But if our supervisor sees it then we are terminated. In fact, in the last six months many new staff have been recruited to replace those terminated for alleged theft."
Emirates 24|7 spoke to several distraught staff of petrol stations who have been unfortunate victims of humiliation. An employee of a shop in one of the leading petrol stations said: "We are always very alert because even if customers shop-lift items, at the end of the day we are held accountable. Worse still is in the absence of female supervisors or security staff, men strip search female staff."
A woman employee of a shop in a petrol station, on condition of anonymity, said: "Those who are on good terms with the supervisor will not be subjected to nude search. But if the value of the missing item is high then a group of security guards conduct the search. And we are asked to take off our undergarments even."
In several cases innocent staff have been terminated when customers have stolen items. Boys at petrol stations said their uniforms have no pockets. "There is no way we could steal stuff. Of late, we are even afraid of accepting tips from generous customers. If there is a strip-search session later that day and our supervisor sees the cash on us, then we are in for trouble," said one of them.