By Hani Hazaimeh
AMMAN - The Sri Lankan embassy on Tuesday agreed to lift a ban on sending domestic helpers to Jordan after a compromise was reached between the Sri Lankan government and Jordanian recruiters.
The ban, which was imposed last month over the non-payment of Sri Lankan domestic helpers’ salaries, was eased after the Domestic Helpers Recruitment Agencies Association (DHRAA) pledged to the embassy in Amman to ensure wages are paid in full.
“On Wednesday we will sign an agreement with the Sri Lankan embassy under which agents pledge to ensure employers pay $200 monthly salaries in full and as stipulated in the workers’ contracts,” DHRAA President Khalid Hseinat told The Jordan Times yesterday.
He added that the compromise was reached on Tuesday after the association and the embassy sat together and discussed the Sri Lankan ban.
Sri Lankan Ambassador to Jordan Andrayas Mohottala said the embassy imposed the ban after it learned Sri Lankan domestic helpers are not being paid their full salaries as stated in their contracts, copies of which are provided to the embassy, the labour ministry and the association.
“Our fellow domestic helpers are only paid $150 as monthly salary, which is against the contract and led many workers to seek the embassy’s assistance in getting their full salaries. Therefore, we decided to halt approving work contracts until this issue is addressed,” Mohottala told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.
He added that the association agreed to be directly involved in the implementation of all articles in the work contracts between domestic helpers and employers.
“We officially addressed our government in Colombo with the recent developments and the association’s pledge. We expect positive feedback soon and once we get the OK, we will resume sending workers to Jordan,” the diplomat said.
Currently, 95 Sri Lankan domestic helpers are seeking refuge at the embassy after fleeing from their employers for different reasons, including physical abuse and unpaid salaries.
A committee comprising members from the ministry, the DHRAA, the relevant embassies and the National Centre for Human Rights has started looking into the outstanding cases of 238 Indonesians, 140 Filipinos and 80 Sri Lankan domestic helpers residing at their respective embassies in Amman.
Mohottala said the committee is looking into the cases of 35 Sri Lankan domestic helpers, adding that so far only three cases have been resolved. Hseinat stressed that within the next few days the committee will address the demands of the remaining workers.
Recent bans implemented by Indonesia and Sri Lanka preventing agents from sending domestic helpers to Jordan have negatively impacted the sector, according to the DHRAA, as recruitment agencies have suffered financial losses.
Agents have urged authorities to speed up procedures to open new markets for domestic helpers, such as Ethiopia, in order to help curb the rising costs of recruiting domestic helpers.