2012 Arab News
2012-02-25 Cost of hiring Sri Lankan maids unreasonably high
Published: Feb 25, 2012 01:16 Updated: Feb 25, 2012 01:16

Several Saudi citizens have decried an exorbitant hike in recruitment charges by the Sri Lankan manpower recruitment offices and middlemen. They noted that the recruitment offices have raised the charges for hiring housemaids from $3,000 to about $4,000, and that was in clear violation of the agreements signed earlier between the two countries.

The citizens urged the intervention of Saudi authorities to put an end to the reckless practice of raising recruitment charges, according to a report in Al-Riyadh newspaper. Saudi sponsors said that the charges have been hiked during the short school vacation period in January when many of them reached Sri Lanka for recruitment purposes as well as for holidaying. During the one-week vacation, there was a huge demand for hiring Sri Lankan maids, and this prompted the recruitment offices and middlemen to raise the charges. There was no time for Saudis even to bargain, and this was exploited by the recruitment offices, they said, while adding that there is no justification for raising recruitment charge from SR3,700 (less than $1000), which was the fee agreed upon by both governments earlier.

These charges included $300 each as fee for the recruitment office owner in Colombo and commission for the middlemen, $200 for the ticket, $40 for medical test, $21 for online registration and $112.5 as fee to the labor office in Colombo. The citizens noted that a Saudi employer is forced to spend around SR14,000 to recruit a housemaid from Sri Lanka, instead of the actual cost that was less than SR3,700. The sponsors also face the prospect of losing the whole investment when the housemaid runs away from the workplace.
They criticized the National Recruitment Committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry for being silent on the issue and not taking any action in the matter. The employers also called on authorities to work out a new bilateral agreement with Sri Lanka to streamline the recruitment process in a way that would serve the interests of both sides as well as to put an end to the unreasonable hike in recruitment charges.

The Kingdom and Sri Lanka had decided to sign a memorandum of understanding to restructure the recruitment process between the two countries in August last year. The decision was taken during a meeting between Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera and Deputy Labor Minister for Planning and Development Mufarrij bin Saad Al-Hagbani at the Labor Ministry in Riyadh.

Under the proposed scheme, the whole recruitment process would be streamlined under the direct supervision of the two governments. During the discussions, a social security scheme was proposed to protect both the employer and the employee.

2012 Arab News
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