Saudi Arabia seeks talks on hiring of Sri Lankan maids

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Saudi officials have announced a five-day visit to Sri Lanka in a bid to overcome "difficulties" related to the recruitment of domestic workers from the south Asian country.

The Gulf kingdom's National Committee of Recruitment of the Council of Saudi Chambers said in comments reported by Saudi Press Agency that discussions will focus on the labour issue, without giving any further details.

Last year, Sri Lanka said it would gradually stop allowing women going to Saudi Arabia to be housemaids after a Sri Lankan was executed in the country over the death of an infant in her care.

The Indian Ocean island nation recalled its envoy to Saudi Arabia in response to the beheading in January 2013 of Rizana Nafeek, who was sentenced to death in 2007 accused of killing her employer's daughter while she was bottle-feeding.

But earlier this year, Saudi Arabia said it was eying new labour agreements covering domestic workers from six countries including Sri Lanka in the next phase of the kingdom’s historic workplace relations reforms.

More than half-a-million foreign workers fled their employers in Saudi Arabia last year, according to the Ministry of Labour.

The expats, mostly low-paid workers such as maids, drivers and labourers, were reported as runaways by their employers.

Disputes between employers and employees are common in the kingdom, where expats make up about one-third of the entire population of 28 million and workers have few rights compared to international standards.

Several labour exporting nations have at times banned their citizens from working in the kingdom over disputes relating to workers’ rights.

Last year, it was reported that the kingdom had announced new rules to protect the rights of domestic helpers, including that employers pay domestic helpers the agreed monthly salary without delay and give them a day off each week.

Employers are also required to provide domestic helpers with suitable accommodation, as well as granting them time to rest for at least nine hours each day, local media reported.

Under the new guidelines, workers are entitled to paid sick leave and a one-month paid vacation after putting in two years of work as well as end of service compensation equal to one month’s salary after four years.

The employer has no right to compel domestic helpers to do a job that does not come under the purview of the labor contract. The regulations also prevent the employer from forcing the worker to do any jobs that are harmful to his/her health.

Penalties included a one-year recruitment ban or SR2,000 ($533.23) fine or both, with repeat offenders facing a SR5,000 fine and three-year to permanent recruitment ban.

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Posted by: nice

perhaps the unemployed saudi men or the millions of women who are not allowed to work could pick up a broom and start sweeping their own houses.

Posted by: Zaffe

I completely agree that Sri Lanka should not send any House Maids. Women should not be the solo breadwinner and destroy the life's of the children who are left in Sri Lanka. Best Way to educate �men on skilled labour a these countries. Which will be good for the family and for the nation.

Posted by: Bandara

Better to stop sending house labour to KSA, they will talk many regulation but end of the day no regulation valid to them and they do what ever they wants.

KSA woman's should do their work other wise they think they are the best in world.

Posted by: garawi

I totally agree with the idea of not sending maids to the middle east.
First these maids are over worked, raped and harrassed.

Secondly the world thinks Sri Lanka is a maid supplying country.

Thirdly if the government aim is to make Sri Lanka the Miracle of Asia, this is not the way to do it.

Fourthy, because of this many families break up and children are brought up with no mother present when they require.
Fifth, some husbands of these maid become lazy and depend on this money coming from abroad.

Posted by: Gondolf

@jasim. Have you been to Sri Lanka? It is one of the most lush countries in the world with plenty of fertile soil and food to feed its people.

Instead, if it was not for oil in ksa, can you imagine your plight?

Posted by: Jasim Al Tayar

if it wasnt for KSA people , Sri Lanka will be starving in the streets. Thank the kind support of the people of KSA who find kindness in their hearts to hire maids from KSA

Posted by: Andre

Why does Saudi with a population of 28.3 M, need workers from Sri Lanka, - with a population of 20.3 M? Can't they manage themselves? Don't they have their own workforce (Wikipedia: 65% are between 15-64 years old), and the unemployment rate among Saudis was 11.5% at the end of 4.Q.13. Or is it the classic example of the rich preying on the weak, luring workers with (mostly) empty promises of financial benefit; or perhaps even hidden "welfare" accorded their own citizens to mollify the transgressions of the rulers?

Admittedly, Sri Lanka benefits from expat inward remittances. But one has to pause and think when a 24-hr telephone service to assist expat workers has to be set up, when the same are beheaded offhand, mostly without proper legal assistance and clemency appeals from world bodies are ignored, etc.

The inhuman treatment of all workers will continue whatever new labour agreement Saudi is "eyeing" and I advise the Sri Lanka government to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Posted by: senna

what a stupid argument. No one is forcing on SL. But SL politicians and professionals are sending these women to earn dollars for their needs

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