By Claire Valdini
Two countries had been locked in talks for months over minimum wage for workers
Talks between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia aimed at resolving an ongoing dispute over domestic workers’ rights in the kingdom have broken down after the Gulf state rejected demands to raise monthly wages by 60 percent.
The two counties have been locked in talks for several months after Saudi Arabia issued a ban on visas for domestic workers from Indonesia.
“The negotiations have hit a snag again after the Saudi side rejected demands by Indonesia to raise the monthly wage of its maids in the kingdom by 60 percent,” Saudi Arabia’s Anbakum reported.
Officials in Jakarta wanted to set a minimum salary of SAR1,200 (US$320) while Riyadh insisted on SAR800, added the paper.
Saudi Arabia stopped issuing visas for domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia after those governments attempted to impose stricter conditions on Saudi employers, such as higher minimum pay and better working conditions.
The oil-rich Gulf state, home to an estimated 1.5m housemaids from Asia and Africa, has come under fire from human rights groups following the death of several maids, who have reportedly died due to torture and maltreatment.
Saudi Arabia last month set a minimum wage of SAR600-800 for foreign domestic workers in the Gulf state.
Officials set the cost of recruitment fees, inclusive of visa costs, two-year medical insurance, a one-way ticket, residence permit fees for two years and a medical checkup, at SAR15,000-SAR17,000, local media reported.
Indonesia’s parliament in April adopted a UN convention on the protection of its migrant workers in the GCC, in a move supported by US-based Human Rights Watch. Migrants’ rights groups in Indonesia have campaigned for the government to ratify the convention since its adoption in 1990.
Last month it was reported that Saudi Arabia planned to import 45,000 Ethiopian nationals into the kingdom every month in order to meet its requirement for domestic workers.