Friday, June 24, 2005

Sri Lanka embassy to assert $150 pay for domestic helpers

By Edgar C. Cadano
The Saudi Gazette

RIYADH -- Sri Lankan embassy officials brushed aside what they allege are discriminatory remarks by a Saudi recruitment official that Sri Lankan housemaids are of low work quality and that they fall short of several requirements compared to women workers from other countries.

Sri Lankan Labor Welfare Officer Mohammed Jiffry said their Sri Lankan housemaid and other unskilled labor have been working in the Kingdom for the past two decades.

If they are not par with other workers of the world, why should Saudi employers keep on hiring them? Jiffry said. He added that around 1,000 to 1,500 Sri Lankan workers are deployed to the Kingdom each month.

There are around 350,000 to 400,000 Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom, 80 percent are housemaids, the embassy spokesman said.He said the remarks came only after the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) set a minimum monthly wage of $150, for their household helpers and other unskilled laborers to work in Saudi Arabia effective July 1.

Sri Lankan housemaids are currently receiving $100 per month, the lowest salary in the Kingdom for expatriate household helpers.Sri Lankan workers used to get an average of SR400 salary a month since our workers started working here two decades ago.

Until the recent past, it has been adjusted to SR450. But things have changed. Everything is increasing. Of course, there should also be an increment for Sri Lankan workers, amid the increasing prices everywhere, he said.

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