M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News
Friday, 17, June, 2005 (10, Jumada al-Ula, 1426)
RIYADH, 17 June 2005 Waleed Al-Soweidan, chief of the Saudi Arabian National Recruitment Committee, said yesterday that Kingdom had no plans to stiffen laws on runaway workers. He said that the Kingdom had laws that safeguarded the interests of sponsors and their foreign employees.
Al-Soweidan, however, said the labor sector needed to be streamlined in the interests of both the employers and the employees.
“The problems faced by sponsors because of the growing number of runaway workers are being effectively dealt with by government agencies,” he said.
The Labor Ministry is expected to announce some measures to prevent workers from fleeing from their employers without apparent reasons. Al-Soweidan was commenting on a report about Riyadh’s moves to stiffen penalties on runaway workers, which appeared in a section of local press early this week.
He pointed out: “The Labor Ministry or the concerned government agencies are authorized to take punitive measures and to take erring workers to court”.
In many cases, he said, it has been found that a substantial number of workers try to escape and work elsewhere despite the fact that the existing regulations ban such actions. Runaway expatriate workers especially housemaids had often found “excuses,” he added, such as maltreatment or non-payment or delay of salaries, to escape from the employers.
A substantial number of foreign workers are reported to go job hunting immediately after landing in the Kingdom despite their contractual obligations. Many of them simply run away after receiving residence permits (Iqama).