Program to protect rights of domestic workers

Updated 17 March 2014
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Program to protect rights of domestic workers

The Ministry of Labor announced plans to launch a program next week to ensure the rights of domestic workers and to ascertain the responsibilities of employers toward their employees.
The program will introduce and discuss the rights that domestic workers are entitled to receive from their employers, including health care, contract renewals, paid sick leaves and days off.
In addition, the program will also provide information on service providers, such as recruitment offices and the commission responsible for the settlement of labor disputes.
“I believe that domestic workers will benefit immensely through this program,” said Mohammad Nazmul Islam, consul general of Bangladesh. “It does not only benefit domestic workers, but will also raise awareness among sponsors of their rights over domestic workers. I hope this will be implemented as soon as possible.”
The Ministry of Labor also recently announced that their customer service center now provides services in eight different languages in order to spread a clear understanding of labor rights and make it easier to lodge complaints or report irregularities to authorities.
This service is set to serve all employees and domestic workers in the Kingdom. The ministry states that with the help of the ministry’s toll free number, workers are now able to report of any violation or mistreatment they receive from their sponsors.
Islam said that the ministry has taken up the initiative in providing customer services in eight different languages. “Not many domestic workers are able to converse in either Arabic or English. There is always a language barrier when they try explaining things to authorities.”
According to M.B.M Zarook, first secretary at the Sri Lankan Consulate in Jeddah, the Ministry of Labor has taken considerable steps to protect the rights of migrant workers compared with last year.
“I appreciate the Saudi government’s efforts and the Labor Ministry’s decision to implement such a program,” said Zarook. “Sri Lanka has already signed a memorandum of understanding for the protection of domestic workers from the island nation in the Kingdom. The agreement includes provisions that stipulate that contracts should be in 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.”
According to the memorandum, workers also must be made aware of the facilities available to them, especially when it comes to health and personal safety. “They are also entitled to full health care and paid sick leave,” he said.
Zarook said that the ministry’s customer service in eight languages is highly appreciated since most domestic workers can’t speak the Arabic language. “Communicating with officers and lodging complaints will be much easier in their native language,” he said.
Ali Al-Qurashi, an investor in the recruitment sector, confirmed that there are more than a million domestic workers in the Kingdom. He said that the agreements signed between the Ministry of Labor and other countries to import workers must be balanced and guarantee the rights of the parties.
He stressed the importance of treating workers fairly, paying salaries on time and refraining from making laborers work long hours.


Website launched to support housing project in Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Housing are working together to provide the necessary services for citizens from different social classes. (SPA)
Updated 25 min 34 sec ago
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Website launched to support housing project in Saudi Arabia

  • Real estate financing for January hit SR4.7 billion, and coming months were expected to see even bigger figures, Al-Hogail told Reuters news agency on the sidelines of a housing conference in Riyadh

RIYADH: A new website has been set up to support a housing project for 10,000 units in the Kingdom.
Housing Minister Majid Al-Hogail, and Commerce and Investment Minister Majid Al-Qassabi on Sunday launched Benaa Housing, which will help construction companies and contractors contribute to a development program in the Kingdom.
Benaa Housing aims to speed up the process of building 10,000 housing units in various parts of Saudi Arabia by enabling small and medium enterprises in the construction sector to access and contribute to projects and opportunities. The estimated cost of the project is SR3.5 billion ($910 million).
“The Ministry of Housing is always keen to provide adequate housing, solutions, and services suitable to all families, especially the beneficiaries of the Housing Development Program in all regions of the Kingdom,” Al-Hogail said.
Al-Qassabi said the new platform would generate more business opportunities for small and medium enterprises and provide suitable apartments for middle-class and lower-income families.
“The Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Housing are working together to provide the necessary services for citizens from different social classes and groups, and the new platform is the fruit of these efforts,” he added.
Earlier this month, the housing minister said he expected investments in the real estate financing sector to reach between SR60 billion and SR80 billion this year.
Real estate financing for January hit SR4.7 billion, and coming months were expected to see even bigger figures, Al-Hogail told Reuters news agency on the sidelines of a housing conference in Riyadh.
Saudi home ownership was growing between 6 and 7 percent annually, he said, adding that he hoped to raise home ownership to 15,000 new households per month by 2020, from a little over 10,000 per month now.
The ministry aims to increase housing ownership through policy and stimulating the private sector, according to its website.
The challenges facing the ministry are the limited availability of suitable units for all parts of the population; difficulty in accessing adequate housing finance; the inefficiency of the real estate sector and heavy reliance on government funding.
“Even though 47 percent of Saudi families already own their homes, we aim to increase this rate by 5 percentage points by 2020,” the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan states. Vision 2030 also aims to speed up construction and provide Saudis with high-quality, competitively priced housing, and to stimulate localization of the country’s construction industry.