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Thu 2 Jan 2014 10:49 AM

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Saudi eyes six new labour deals

Saudi is eying new labour agreements covering domestic workers from six countries

Saudi eyes six new labour deals

Saudi is eying
new labour agreements covering domestic workers from six countries in the next
phase of the kingdom’s historic workplace relations reforms.

Following the
signing of a labour agreement with the Philippines relating to household maids
last year, Saudi labour minister Adel Fakeih travelled to New Delhi on Wednesday to ink
a labour pact for the recruitment of domestic workers from India.

Ahmed Al Fahaid, deputy labour minister for international affairs, told
Arab News that Sri Lanka would ink a similar labour pact in the Saudi capital
on January 14.

Also, major labour-exporting countries such as
Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia were also working closely with the
kingdom on a similar agreement in the near future, he said.

“We have sent a similar draft agreement to Pakistan… and we are waiting
for their reply,” he said, adding that the ministry will be willing to sign
similar pacts with countries which intend to send domestic aides to Saudi.

Al Fahaid said the agreement covered 12 categories of domestic workers,
including house drivers, cleaners, housemaids, janitors, tutors and private
waiters working for individuals/families.

“Even a pilot working for an individual or family (other than an airline or
a business) will be treated as a domestic service worker under the agreement,”
he was quoted as saying.

Under the agreement, domestic helpers can only be hired through licenced
recruitment agencies which comply with both Saudi regulations and those of the
country deploying the domestic workers.

It also offered protection mechanisms such as insurance and prohibits
deductions from a domestic worker for any recruitment cost.

Last year, Saudi lifted a
ban on Filipino maids working in the kingdom following a dispute between the
countries over conditions.

Manila insisted the
minimum wage for its maids was necessary to protect them from exploitation but
Saudi resisted the demand and suspended the processing of employment contracts.

Last year Nepal also
banned women under the age of 30 from working as housemaids in the GCC, two
years after the country lifted a ban on nationals taking up employment in
domestic services in the Gulf states.

Officials in the
Himalayan country lifted a 12-year ban on women being employed in Saudi Arabia,
the UAE and Qatar in 2010, introduced after a domestic worker subjected to
abuse in Kuwait committed suicide.