Mohammed Nabawi Junaid, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, said employment agents in the UAE will soon be informed to comply with the new minimum wage rule while recruiting Sri Lankan domestic workers for the UAE market.
“All new labour agreements will hence be approved by the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and attested by the Sri Lankan missions in the UAE, only if the workers receive a minimum salary recently stipulated by the Sri Lankan government,” the ambassador said.
He said the new minimum wage set is only Dh50 more than the earlier wage set and its enforcement in the UAE should not be a problem for employers.
The new salary structure is being implemented on a proposal made by the country’s Labour Minister Athauda Senevirathne who said most Sri Lankan workers in the Middle East have been receiving a monthly pay of $100 for around two decades. The minister stated that he would not hesitate to take steps to stop workers leaving the country without agreement on the stipulated salary.
More than one million Sri Lankans work overseas, mainly as housemaids, bringing in over a billion dollars in remittances annually. The country’s labour ministry oversees permits for the workers including insurance if they fall sick or need to travel back home quickly.
“Unless they earn at least 150 dollars a month, it is not worth their leaving the families and travelling abroad to work,” a recent newspaper report quoting the Sri lankan labour ministry spokesman H.A. Samarasinghe said.
“The government will not provide insurance cover and take responsibility for women seeking employment overseas as housemaids if their wages are not above the minimum standard specified, ” Samarasinghe said.
He said most of the Sri Lankan housemaids in the Middle East and countries like Singapore were paid 100 dollars a month and the authorities here felt they could earn that much at home.
About two-thirds of Sri Lankans employed abroad were women, the state foreign employment bureau said. Hundreds have been brought back at state expense after they got into trouble with job agents and employers who refused to pay their wages.
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