Wage talks delay Saudi recruitment from Sri Lanka

Sunday, 3 October 2010 23:58 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

JEDDAH: Arabnews.com: Saudi sponsors seeking to recruit domestic help from Sri Lanka say they have suffered delays of nine months to a year, despite completing the application process and paying the fees.

“In March, I paid the fees and was told that according to the new regulations, I should only have to wait for 190 days or just over six months until the maid arrives. Instead, I am still waiting,” said Saad K., a retired government employee.

He has visited and also called the recruitment office many times but was told that the delay was due to a problem in Sri Lanka.

Another Saudi who was visiting a recruitment agency told Arab News that he had been waiting for 10 months and had been given the runaround whenever he called for information.

 “Several times I have called the office to speak to the manager and they always say he is out and will return my call, which never happens,” said Khaled Al- Seraj, adding that this is why he had decided to make a personal visit to the office.

The manager of employment agency Badeel Recruitment in Jeddah told Arab News the delays were due to salary negotiations currently under way between Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia.

 “We have information that Sri Lanka is requesting and working on establishing new contracts raising the salaries of its domestic workers from the current minimum wage of SR650 to SR800,” said the manager, Sameer.

He added that until these negotiations are completed, he does not see any end to the current delays.

 “The talks must be completed and an agreement arrived at before we can expect any applications to be processed abroad in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Arab News contacted Nimal Ranawaka, labour consul at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, for his reaction. However, he said he considered the matter confidential. Other Sri Lankan diplomats were not available for comment.

According to figures obtained earlier this month from Sri Lanka’s Central Bank, remittances from Sri Lankan nationals working in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries are expected to top SR14.25 billion ($3.8 billion) by the end of this year.