Monday, August 2, 2010

Lankan women stranded in Riyadh

MD Rasooldeen

*Forty one women not given assigned jobs
*Six women fall sick
Forty-one Sri Lankan workers, all of them women, have been stranded in Riyadh since March because they were not given their assigned jobs by their local sponsor. “The local agent in Colombo recruited the workers for a cleaning company, which is unable to deploy the workers since it has a dispute with the concerned hospital (where the workers were to be deployed),” the Sri Lankan Embassy’s labour counsellor Nimal Ranawake said. The diplomat added that the sponsor has promised suitable placement as soon as the dispute between the cleaning company and the hospital is settled.

Meanwhile, five months into the women’s ordeal, six women have reportedly fallen ill and relatives of the stranded workers say they are not being adequately accommodated with hygienic conditions or food. Without access to the workers, Daily News was unable to confirm the claims.

Relatives of some of the women say they were told their loved ones would be working as cleaners for a company called Rasik Al-Mussalla and that a Colombo-based labour recruiter called New Trans Gulf Co. promised the women immediate placement for SR 650 (about $ 174) a month with food and lodging.

Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Assistant General Manager L. Ruhunuge, said the bureau has requested the Sri Lankan Embassy to help the six women who have fallen ill return home.

“We have also requested the mission to supply dry rations and toiletries to the stranded workers, since the company is not supplying any food,” Ruhunuge said. “We cannot tolerate this situation for a long time.

Either the sponsor has to give them employment or repatriate them home.”

The Kingdom has a Sri Lankan population of 550,000 workers, a majority of them female domestic servants. Ruhunuge said the Sri Lanka Colombo Government’s efforts to increase the wages of Sri Lankan overseas workers has led remittances by foreign workers to jump from $ 2.9 billion in 2008 to $ 3.3 billion last year.

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