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'Hiring ban' on nine firms by Lanka embassy

Muscat: Sri Lankan embassy in Muscat has blacklisted nine companies and suspended operations with 14 companies in Oman for allegedly "cheating- its country's workers. Currently, there are about 25,000 Sri Lankan nationals in Oman.

According to documents available with Times of Oman, the embassy has blacklisted seven garment manufacturers and exporters and two other companies while operations with three garment manufacturers and exporters, four recruitment firms, three marketing companies and four other companies have been suspended for violating Oman's
labour laws.

Most of these companies and factories are based outside Muscat. "These companies were blacklisted or operations with such companies were suspended by Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment in Colombo on recommendations made by the embassy following several complaints against them,- said Asoka Girihagama (in picture), Sri Lankan Ambassador to the Sultanate.

Speaking to Times of Oman, the ambassador said that the complaints against these companies include non-payment of wages, maltreatment of workers and unauthorised deduction of salaries.

"Compared to other countries the number of blacklisted or suspended companies is very low here,- he claimed.

During the "blacklisted period-, they will not be able to recruit workers from Sri Lanka and their representatives will not be able to get visas to visit Sri Lanka.

The blacklisted firms also include companies who have kept workers and housemaids in cramped living quarters or under unhygienic conditions, failed to pay their minimum salaries RO70 on time, physically abused them or had not taken safety measures at worksites.

It has been learnt that blacklisting is done in a very systematic manner. "Before any action is taken against a company; embassy officials thoroughly investigate the allegations and write to the company concerned, giving them a chance to take remedial steps.

If it fails to respond to missives or does not take steps for better treatment of workers, it is automatically blacklisted,-� sources said.

Such firms are harming their own interest because they will get eliminated and good companies will prosper at their cost. "In a way, such companies are helping good companies in Oman because bad ones will be automatically eliminated,-� sources added.
"However, it is possible for a company to get off the list, if there is sufficient evidence that it has changed its ways.

"We are ready to remove the names of firms from the list if they mend their ways. The names of a large number of companies have been dropped from the list after they acceded to the embassy's demands,- he said.

Generally, the embassy passes on the list to the Sri Lankan government which forewarns recruits before they travel to Oman.

"We don't want others to get lured by these companies which are blacklisted,- the official added.

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Rahul Das
July 28, 2012
Source: Times of Oman.