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Lankan worker rejects paltry compensation

A Sri Lankan worker who lost his leg while working refused Monday to accept SR5,000 as compensation from his Saudi sponsor.
Ruwan Chamara Herath, 29, suffered a serious accident while driving a vehicle without headlights. He claimed his sponsor forced him to drive the vehicle at midnight even though he knew that the headlights were not working, Herath alleged.
The worker said that the sponsor wants to forcibly repatriate him against his wishes without giving proper compensation. “The SR5,000 which the sponsor has promised is my three months' wages and allowances,” he said, lamenting that he cannot go home in this manner.
“How can I go home without a leg? How am I going to help my wife? I’m the breadwinner of the family,” he said. He also has a two-year-old baby.
“I need proper compensation from my sponsor and I want an artificial leg so that I can continue with my life.”
He claimed that his sponsor has refused to pay him last month’s salary because he apparently had to repair the truck involved in the accident.
The office of the Sri Lankan consulate general has intervened in this matter to look after the interests of the distressed worker. “We are working out a suitable compensation for the worker,” an official from the consulate told Arab News from Jeddah.
He added that the sponsor has to pay a sizable compensation to the worker since the person had met with the accident while on duty.
Herath claimed that the company he works for treats its workers “like slaves without proper regard for local labor regulations.” He said he had to do 20 trips a day transporting sand in huge trucks for a cement factory, along with 16 other Sri Lankan drivers.
“Our sponsor has not given us iqamas or driver’s licenses for the last nine months.”
Herath said the drivers were afraid to go outside because they feared the authorities would arrest them. He also claimed that most of the company’s trucks are not properly insured which makes it impossible for him to get compensation.
He said he came to the Kingdom to make money to build his dream house on a plot of land he owns in Gampaha, a suburb some 30 km from Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital.
He said an artificial leg would cost him money equivalent to SR8,000 in Sri Lanka. He would be happy if someone could help him purchase it. He has asked the Sri Lankan Consulate in Jeddah for assistance.

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