Monday, August 10, 2009

New laws to protect migrant workers

Rasika Somarathna

Stiffer sanctions would be brought in on local recruitment agents and they would be held responsible for any misdeeds done by their principal agents abroad. Direct intervention on a Government to Government basis would be made to enhance worker rights and resolve disputes.

Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka addressing migrant labour recruitment agents yesterday said that the aim of these multi-faceted moves were to better organize the work force and integrate them into a comprehensive economic and social safety net, before, during and after migration.

Speaking at an awareness program for foreign employment agents, the Chairman said that the authorities would not hesitate to enact some tough measures which would ensure worker safety\rights even if it means a drop in job orders which could affect the country's foreign exchange earnings.

All job orders have to be sanctioned by the relevant Sri Lankan embassies abroad and also the sponsors had to abide by the rules stipulated in the agreements. In the case of general improvements in worker rights, welfare and salary anomalies, the direct intervention of the relevant Government's would be sought, he added.

Agents who feed misinformation on prospective migrant employees to convince them to accept un-viable employment opportunities too would be taken to task, he added. Ranawaka also added that the local agents should have a thorough knowledge of their principal sponsors abroad and should make an in depth study about relevant job orders before committing themselves.

Human trafficking and smuggling too would not be tolerated and stiffer sanctions with the aid of the law enforcing officers would be brought in, he added.

According to Ranawaka, the SLBFE has also declared war on rogue agents and has nabbed 128 such offenders so far this year alone.

According to latest statistics, the number of Sri Lankan migrant workers are in the excess of 1.6 million with another 220,000 new recruits joining the force annually. When it comes to Sri Lanka's export earnings, the migrant worker remittances which constitutes nearly 35 per cent.

No comments: