Sharp drop in Kuwait-bound workers

Arab employers refuse to pay new insurance premium imposed by dubious government-appointed agent
By Leon Berenger

Recruitment of Sri Lankan female domestic workers for Kuwait has been suspended following a dispute over a new insurance premium introduced by the Kuwaiti recruiting agent appointed by the Sri Lanka government.

Last month the agent, Al Haooq, introduced an insurance premium of 50 Kuwaiti dinars, or Rs. 20,000, for each Sri Lanka housemaid taking up employment in Kuwait. Arab employers have refused to pay this sum, and this has resulted in a sharp drop in the number of domestic helpers heading to Kuwait.
A rival licensed recruiting agent in the Arab state is offering an insurance premium of Rs. 6,000, but the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment is determined to retain its current Kuwait agency.

According to W. M. P. Alfonso, president of the Association for Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA), a prospective Arab employer must provide Rs. 160,000 to retain a domestic helper from Sri Lanka. “It would be unfair to increase this sum by an additional Rs. 20,000,” he told The Sunday Times.
Mr. Alfonso said there had been an 85 per cent drop in the number of Sri Lankan domestics going to Kuwait after the insurance cover was introduced, and warned that the drop could continue if matters were not speedily resolved.

According to Mr. Alfonso, the present Kuwait agent Al Haooq is not even registered with the Kuwaiti authorities. He alleges that the agent was recently jailed for operating an illegal safe house for some 70 Indian runaway maids that had been described as a “makeshift brothel”. He said the agent, described as an Egyptian national, was even allowed to operate a mini-office from the premises of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Kuwait City.

Mr. Alfonso says the insurance premium for Sri Lankan domestic helpers in the nearby United Arab Emirates (UAE) was Rs. 6,000.

Meanwhile, Kingsley Ranawaka, chairman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, told The Sunday Times that the insurance premium of Rs. 20,000 was fixed according to proper procedure and that there was no basis for criticism by other Kuwaiti job agencies. He said Al Haooq was chosen through a tender advertised in the newspapers.

“An Insurance Board panel in Colombo had approved Al Haooq after a review of the applicants who had responded to the tender. Their approval was endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Employment,” Mr. Ranawaka said.

“The agent who’s offering a lesser premium should have applied when the tender was first advertised. It is too late now.” Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Hussein Bhaila told The Sunday Times that recruiting agencies in Kuwait were worried because they had to pay the insurance cover from the commissions that they earned from the worker.

“The agent who is offering a smaller premium should have applied earlier through the proper channels,” Mr. Bhaila said. The insurance covers death, injury, repatriation and legal expenses, among other things, Mr. Bhaila said.

There are some 200,000 Sri Lankans working in Kuwait, 65 per cent of whom are women working as domestic helpers. According to official figures, some 35,000 Sri Lankan women take up employment in Kuwait each year.

Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
Other News Articles
Relief Villages for 100,000 displaced people
Mihin Lanka gets tender blow with mammoty
SLAF believes Soosai killed in air attack
TNA crisis deepens
It’s back to Batticaloa, but not to school
Ex-sprint queen refuses to join elections race
Hikkaduwa sorely missing annual wave of visitors
Sharp drop in Kuwait-bound workers
Religion not clearly defined in Bill on forcible conversion
Protest over assault on doctor
Lankan scientist aims for “zero sludge”
AG’s office awaits Golden Key lawyers to discuss depositors’ redress
When old acquaintances meet - Odds and Ends
The fall of Chalai and the death knell to Sea Tigers
War within UPFA for Wayamba manapes
We won’t be fooled this time too, we won’t vote
Take steps for free and fair polls, Monitors tell all concerned
Protesting farmers disrupt Chamal Rajapaksa ceremony
Fresh call for bids for Colombo port terminal
Station masters to go on 48-hour strike
Kohangahage pledges to upgrade Dhamma schools
Opposition insists state media is bound by its own elections coverage guidelines
Sunken vessel yields 168 year-old soft drinks
‘Basil not a green card holder’
Seminar on challenges facing Muslims
Chitrasiri J appointed to Court of Appeal


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution