Saturday, August 8, 2009

Demand for Lankan migrant workers in Lebanon doubles

Anjana Samarasinghe
HIGH DEMAND: After the war in Lebanon the demand for Lankan migrant workers has doubled during past few months.
President of the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies U.T.M. Anver told Daily News that Sri Lanka was able to gain nearly 15,000 job opportunities in Lebanon after the war.
There is a high demand for male workers in the construction industry and there are job opportunities for female workers too. Since the demand has increased for migrant workers the minimum wages of these workers too has increased.
Middle-East bound Lankan labour
'The minimum wage for a migrant worker in Lebanon was USD 100 but now it has increased to USD 130. Our Association is in the process of increasing this amount to USD 150 and are negotiating with our counterparts in other countries,' Anver said. 'During the war nearly 6,000 migrant workers returned to Sri Lanka. But most of the local workers are keen on migrating to Lebanon again.
At present we are doing the visa process for the workers who expect to migrate to Lebanon and migrating will commence after the Eid, he said. Talking about the general minimum wages of the migrant workers Anver said that compared to last year, the minimum wage has increased but this is different from country to country and varies according to employers.
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Cypress are some countries that pay high wages for their employees. 'When it comes to the domestic labour market, there is a huge potential for Sri Lanka in the Middle East.
Since Philippines labour charges are high many Middle East employers have switched to Sri Lanka. Countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan are not interested in sending female workers to other countries, he said.
Sri Lanka could gain more foreign remittances through this segment if the country could send skilled labour.
Government too needs to focus on producing skilled labour to the industry, Anver added.

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