Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka will sign a landmark labor pact on Monday in a renewed bid to regulate hiring of domestic workers from the island nation and to ensure protection to all domestic help already employed in the Kingdom.
The labor agreement will be signed by Dr. Ahmed F. Al-Fahaid, deputy labor minister for international affairs on behalf of the Kingdom and the Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment, Promotion and Welfare Dilan Perera.
Giving details of the pact, Al-Fahaid, told Arab News: “The agreement will have the same provisions including protection mechanism for domestic help like the one we signed with India earlier this month.”
He said the labor agreement for domestic workers recruitment was a joint effort by Riyadh and Colombo to create a unified and well-regulated system for recruitment with emphasis on monitoring the working conditions of workers. “The pact will cover 12 categories of domestic workers including housemaids, drivers, cleaners, and waiters employed by individuals,” Al-Fahaid explained.
Sri Lankan Ambassador V. Krishnamoorthy welcomed the joint initiative stating that it ensures rights and safety to domestic workers who travel to Saudi Arabia for jobs. “In fact, the new agreement will ensure that all job contracts entered into by domestic maids or workers traveling to the Kingdom are with the consent of the three parties concerned,” he said.
“All parties including the sponsor, the agent and the recruitment agency will have to be aware of the details of the contract,” a report explaining the clauses of the new pact said. Sri Lanka has been lobbying for the rights of the domestic worker since 2012, and the agreement would go a long way in preventing cases of abuse and in ensuring fair and humane treatment to domestic workers.
The pact also offers a protection mechanism, including insurance for domestic workers. At present, around 350,000 Sri Lankan workers are in the Kingdom, with domestic workers accounting for 80 percent of the workforce. Colombo is providing training courses for domestic workers prior to their departure to Saudi Arabia. Sri Lankan workers receive language training, hospitality training, lessons on how to run washing machines and home appliances, cooking lessons, and training on how to care for the elderly and children.
Saudi Arabia has plans to sign similar agreements with several other countries in the near future. Riyadh has already endorsed labor pacts with the Philippines and India, which greatly help to safeguard the interests of workers as well as employers. Major labor-exporting countries, such as Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia, are working closely with Saudi Arabia to sign similar labor agreements in the near future. (Arab News)