Thursday, November 12, 2015

Saudi Riyal 23,000 or Rs 8.7lakhs for a Housemaid Visa to Saudi!

I was simply shocked to note that it costs the above for a visa to get down a Sri Lankan housemaid to Saudi Arabia. See link in Saudi Gazette:
The article is not clear how this is made up, and how the cost is arrived at, but it is nevertheless very important for the Govt. to explain how this total cost works out to the Employer there, and bears NO RELATION to what the Housemaid in fact earns in a month from her employment.

Of course there are factors such as airfares, and fees to the recruiting agents, and insurances, in case the maid does not work out etc. but it is the responsibility of the GOSL (SL Government) to clearly explain this to the employee so she understands how much the system is using her as a commodity, and the possible discrepancy between the maid’s perception of how she is treated and the employer believing that her duty has cost far more than the monthly amount paid for her services.

It is quite clear that the Agencies and intermediaries both here in Sri Lanka and in Saudi Arabia take a huge chunk of change from this, and therefore exploit these workers to a level that is unconscionable.

Whenever anyone is enticed to leave their home in Sri Lanka and take up employment, they must be told the facts, as the ignorance of our people are exploited. I know Agencies offer money upfront, and sometimes make promises of payment as soon as they board the aircraft, to the next of kin in Sri Lanka and those promises turn out to be nothing but hot air.  

I was simply shocked when I saw this article and I believe it is time that our Foreign Employment Agency thoroughly review this on behalf of the Sri Lankan citizens it aims at protecting from Human Trafficking, as there is no other word that can be used to describe this atrocious state of affairs.

I hate to say it but as this level of exploitation is unseemly it may be an option to only send maids to Saudi with the Agency acting as the means and use the money they gain from this to begin the long promised pension scheme for our workers who return from overseas. It can easily be funded from this fee.

I am not one to substitute Govt. for private enterprise, but in cases where there is definite exploitation, I believe there is NO other option. I am willing to bet that the housemaids are not informed about the cost to the employer, so that they can understand when an employer complains about the costs!!!     

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