Friday, June 7, 2013

New rules for domestic workers

The Saudi Government's Ministry of Labor has now issued new rules for domestic workers. When you actually go through the list of these new rules, you would find that there is hardly any room for cheer for these poor expats.

Probably no other category of expats working in Saudi Arabia deserve more sympathy and attention than domestic workers. They have been continuously ill-treated, over-worked, under-paid and in many cases physically and sexually abused by their sponsors. Just take a look at the number of runaway maids from various countries and you will know what I mean. And day after day, like ostriches, the establishment digs its head deeper into the sand wishing that the problem would go away.

The labor ministry finally decided to give these modern-day slaves a weekly day off or at least agreed to let it be so on paper. Oh, but what about the masters and their families? Who will take care of their kids if these slaves run away? Here comes the rider. The domestic helps can take a weekly off, but if they have to go out, they must do so only with their sponsors' families. If they prefer not to do so, they can take their weekly off by staying at home.  Every heard of a weekly off where you are supposed to go to your office, but need not work? The chairman of the National Committee for Recruitment (ever heard of this organization??) says, "The regulation allows the domestic helps or drivers to enjoy their weekend day off...". Some weekly off and some enjoyment. These guys certainly have a sense of humor.

Now take a closer look at the new rule. If the domestic worker is a male, he is allowed to go anywhere he likes during his weekly off, but if the worker is a female, she has to necessarily stay at home. So what did you expect in the Kingdom of Humanity?

Meanwhile, embassies are gearing up for the mass exodus of workers from the kingdom. The Indian embassy has announced various helpline numbers. Starting today, a team of Arabic speaking officers and volunteers will be stationed at the Riyadh deportation center (Tarheel) and at Riyadh airport, 24 hours a day. The Tarheel helpline numbers are 0546843866 / 94 / 36 and 0546843903. At Riyadh International airport, the helpline numbers are 0546843922 / 3919 / 3734 / 3750 and 0548981774.

The Indian embassy has also announced that the last date for submission of new Emergency Certificate applications is 20th June.

The deadline issued by SriLankan embassy is 15th June (Phone numbers: 0114608232 / 235). Filipino citizens can search their passport by clicking on this link (click here), while Nepalese can search the same by clicking here.

With less than a month to go for the expiry of the grace period, there seems to be no hint, at least at this point of time, for any extension of deadline. It is going to be a nightmare considering that there are still thousands of expats waiting for their turn to get out.