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Sri Lanka to blacklist convicted workers

(Colombo Lankpuvath)After blacklisting some Omani companies for allegedly flouting labour laws, the Government of Sri Lanka is considering blacklisting migrant workers who have been convicted of crimes in Oman.

Times of Oman had yesterday reported of Sri Lankan Embassy in Muscat blacklisting nine Omani companies and suspending operations for 14 companies based in Oman “for defying Oman’s labour law.

Most of these workers had been found guilty of overstaying after their visas had expired; working for people other than sponsors; escaping from households; engaging in prostitution and other crimes, and flouting Omani labour laws. “We plan to implement this rule by September 2012, said Asoka Girihagama, the Sri Lankan ambassador to Oman.

Sources said that fleeing from their employers had become a routine among housemaids with regular reports of these incidents pouring into the embassy.

“With the proposed blacklisting, these workers would be prohibited from obtaining foreign employment in Oman and thereby they could minimise the number of issues surfacing in those countries relating to migrant workers, the ambassador added.

There are currently 1.5 million migrant workers from Sri Lanka, mostly in the Middle East, and more than 6,000 Sri Lankan workers left the country for employment in Oman in 2010, out of which 3,000 were housemaids.

It seems that the crackdown on the erring companies is bringing good results. “The more the number of unscrupulous recruitment agents blacklisted by the authorities, the less the number of runaway housemaids taking refuge in the embassy’s shelter house in the embassy premises, sources added.

“Now, there are only eight runaway housemaids in the shelter. When I joined about a year back, there were at least 30 such women in the shelter house, the ambassador noted.

According to sources, workers who migrate to Oman have to raise a fair amount of money to pay to employment agents, which most manage by mortgaging property or taking loans at high interest rates as recruitment agents usually charge higher recruitment fees than legally permitted. “The majority pay up to Rs. 200,000 as recruitment fees, sources said.

This is the beginning of “contract substitution- as the agents give a different contract with less salary and different terms when they reach the Oman. Most labour disputes originate from this contract substitution. There are around 40 registered recruitment agencies in Oman recruiting labourers and housemaids from Sri Lanka.

“The embassy is regularly working with Omani authorities to prevent the abuse of Sri Lankan workers by their employers, the ambassador said. – Times of Oman

Source :� lankapuwath.- �29.07.2012