Mar 04, Colombo: Sri Lanka says Saudi Arabia has agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government to protect country's migrant workers employed in the Kingdom.
Sri Lanka's Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera has said that a MoU similar to the ones already signed with the governments of Kuwait and Oman will be signed with Saudi Arabia soon.
"For the first time ever the Saudi Arabian government has agreed to sign a MoU with Sri Lanka regarding migrant workers after it had repeatedly rejected such requests in the past. The MoU will include the welfare measures necessary to protect Sri Lankan migrant workers," the Minister has told Xinhua.
Minister Perera has said that discussions were also being held to introduce a quota system on the recruitment of Sri Lankan housemaids to the Middle East per year.
The MoU comes months after Saudi Arabia executed a Sri Lankan housemaid in January this year for an alleged murder of her employer's infant son in 2005 when the housemaid was only 17 years old.
The execution carried out by the Saudi authorities despite numerous pleas from the Sri Lankan government as well as international organizations and other governments to commute the death sentence sparked protests in the country and soured the relations between the two counties.
Sri Lanka recalled its ambassador to the Saudi Kingdom as a mark of protest and the Saudis recalled their ambassador to Riyadh for consultation.
Following the execution, Sri Lanka raised the minimum age to 25 for women seeking employment in the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the government in a move to discourage unskilled workers going overseas has launched several programs to train women seeking overseas employment in various skills to become skilled workers.
According to Minister Perera, the women will be given training at 25 vocational training centers all over the island on host country language, the handling of electronic and electrical equipment, and basic health matters to meet the challenges in the host country.
The training will be mandatory from April for the women seeking employment in the Middle East to successfully complete the level three of the National Vocational Qualification test.