Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Higher Pay for Lankan Maids From Tomorrow

Sri Lankan maids in Saudi Arabia will have their minimum wage increased by over 90 percent starting tomorrow following a recent order issued by the Sri Lankan government. Maids will now receive a minimum of SR750 per month, a SR350 increase over their previous SR400 monthly wage."

Since Dec. 25, we have been advising recruitment agents in Saudi Arabia of the increase in salaries and telling them to revise contracts accordingly, " said N.L.D. Abeyrabne, counselor of Employment and Welfare at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh.Abeyrabne added that Sri Lankan maids currently working in the Kingdom would have their employment contracts adjusted to reflect the pay raise.Meanwhile, officials at recruitment offices in Riyadh and Jeddah said they had been adjusting contracts to reflect the pay raise.

"Since receiving the news of the announcement concerning the salary increase of Sri Lankan housemaids, we have had our workload doubled," said a source at Al-Babtain Recruitment Agency in Riyadh.The source added that it was a similar situation previously when the salaries of maids of other nationalities were increased.In the past two years, Filipino maids have had their salaries increased from SR800 to SR1,400, and Indonesian maids have had their salaries raised from SR600 to SR800.

The Kingdom also recruits domestic helpers from Vietnam and Nepal, whose minimum wage has been increased from SR400 to SR600 a month.However, with high inflation and increasing cost of living throughout the region, many citizens find the salary increases unacceptable. "I don't dispute that these workers need a pay raise but I feel that before the government gives domestic workers an increase in salaries, citizens should be helped in some way through subsidies or other incentives," said Abdul Rahman Al-Hashmi, a Saudi private sector worker.On the other hand, the decision to increase salaries is a dream come true for workers, who have been striving to save money to make ends meet for their families back home and get out of the cycle of poverty.

"I feel that the pay raise was long over due," said Sari N., a Sri Lankan maid who has been working in the Kingdom for 11 years. She added that she had gone home and returned to the same family five times."The family I work for has been very kind to me over the years and I've managed to save enough money to start a catering business in Sri Lanka. The pay raise means this will be the last time that I will be employed as a domestic worker. Now I can focus on being a business owner back home," she said.

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