Sponsors can’t withhold passports of Sri Lankan domestics anymore

Updated 15 January 2014
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Sponsors can’t withhold passports of Sri Lankan domestics anymore

Sri Lankan household workers will no longer be required to surrender their passports to their sponsors according to a new agreement signed on Monday between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka.
Under the agreement, the salaries of domestic workers will also be remitted to their bank accounts.
The two governments signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding for the protection of Sri Lankan domestic workers in the Kingdom.
The agreement was signed in Riyadh between Labor Minister Adel Fakeih and Dilan Perera, Sri Lankan minister of foreign employment promotion and welfare.
Until now, Saudi employers have retained the passports of their domestic helps and have paid their salaries in cash.
Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said that this is an important agreement which protects both the employer and the employee. He also said the agreement would pave the way for more workers coming into the Kingdom.
The agreement will have the same provisions, including a protection mechanism for domestic help like the one the Kingdom signed with India and the Philippines earlier this month.
“The agreement would streamline the recruitment scheme between the two countries and help them resolve several issues facing the recruitment of domestic aides from Colombo to the Kingdom,” Fakeih said.
He said that recruitment should only be processed through licensed employment agencies. He also said that workers should be subject to sound working environments.
He also said the pact ensures that the right workers come for employment and they should be physically fit to serve in the Kingdom and able to adapt themselves to the cultural environment of the host country.
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.
It will cover 12 categories of domestic workers, including housemaids, drivers, cleaners and waiters employed by individuals.
The proposed agreement includes provisions that stipulate that contracts should be drafted a language that is understood by the worker and that the worker must be informed of what to do and whom to turn to in case of an emergency.
The worker also must be made aware of the facilities available to him or her, especially when it comes to health and personal safety, and the employer must agree to terminate the service contract after a maximum of two years if the employee wishes to leave his or her place of employment. In addition, the employee has the right to retain all his or her travel documents at all times.
Minister Dilan Perera thanked the Saudi government for its wonderful cooperation to materialize the agreement.
He said the decision to sign the agreement was taken during the visit of Ziyad Al-Sayigh, deputy minister for customer services and labor relations to Sri Lanka, in December last year during the two-day Asia-Gulf States Regional Dialogue on standard terms of employment for migrant domestic workers held in the Sri Lankan capital.
Al-Sayigh held discussions with Sri Lankan labor officials on the sidelines of the meeting. The dialogue, sponsored by UN Women and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, was attended by representatives from 20 countries, including Middle Eastern nations.
Describing it as a government to government accord, the Lankan minister said that under the new agreement, the original passports of domestic workers will be in their possession and their salaries will be remitted to their designated banks.
“In my view, this will be the most protective mechanism for domestic workers in the entire Gulf region,” Perera said. There are some 1.7 million Lankan overseas workers, 90 percent of which are in the Middle East.
Vadivel Krishnamoorhy, Sri Lankan ambassador in Riyadh, said that a standard employment agreement for the engagement of Sri Lankan domestic workers in the Kingdom would be adopted following implementation of this agreement.
“Under the pact, domestic workers can be assured of a safer, more decent and less problematic working environment,” he noted.


Saudi interior minister reviews Hajj safety procedures

Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif patronizes the military parade. (SPA)
Updated 14 August 2018
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Saudi interior minister reviews Hajj safety procedures

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s interior minister patronized a military parade of the Hajj security forces on Monday.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif, who is also the Chairman of the Higher Hajj Committee, reviewed preparations to serve the pilgrims, who are continuing to arrive in the Kingdom ahead of the annual pilgrimage. Their numbers are expected to reach the millions.
The Kingdom’s security forces are sparing no efforts to maintain a safe environment for the Hajjis.
Prince Abdulaziz affirmed the preparedness of all sectors involved in securing this year's Hajj.
The minister reviewed the special mechanisms, armored vehicles and security aviation on deployment. 
During the ceremony, Gen. Saeed bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani, assistant minister of interior for operations affairs, said "the forces have begun their duties in Mecca, the holy sites, Medinah and all the outlets and roads leading to the Hajj ritual areas.
The duties of the security forces fall in line with the directives of King Salman, followed up by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and under the direct supervision of the Minister of Interior.
Gen. Al-Qahtani stressed the readiness of the forces, in coordination with Saudi ministries and other bodies, to maintain the security of pilgrims and facilitate their Hajj.