Saudi embassy 'not giving visas to male workers'
12:00 AM, November 21, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:44 AM, November 21, 2016

Saudi embassy 'not giving visas to male workers'

The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Dhaka is refusing to stamp visas for male workers as recruiting agencies are not sending at least 25 percent female workers simultaneously, alleged Baira yesterday.

“Since last Tuesday, the Saudi embassy in Dhaka is imposing a condition of 25 percent female quota on us when our agents go for stamping visas for male workers. It is totally a violation of the agreement between our government and the Saudis,” Ruhul Amin, secretary general of Bangladesh Agencies of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), told The Daily Star last night.

On average, the embassy stamps around 600 to 700 visas a day, but the figure has drastically reduced to 400-500 since Tuesday, he added.

The Baira yesterday informed the matter to the Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment in a letter to its secretary, Ruhul Amin said.

The Saudi government has always been reportedly pushing Bangladesh to send female workers since an agreement was signed in February last year, implying in conversations that otherwise male workers would not be hired, although they never put it in writing.

Soon after the signing of the agreement, Bangladesh sent more than 75,000 female workers to Saudi Arabia between April and November 17, last year, according to statistics of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).

“The Saudi government should issue visas for at least 1.5 lakh male workers against the female workers we have sent so far. Unfortunately, they did not do that, rather they are now imposing illogical conditions on us,” Ruhul Amin said, adding that they would not accept the condition.

Asked about the Baira's allegation, Jabed Ahmed, additional secretary to the ministry, told reporters they would look into the matter.

“The Baira has informed us that the Saudi embassy was imposing conditions of sending at least 25 percent female workers against the male workers. We will discuss the matter with the embassy and take necessary steps,” he said.

It is not possible to send female workers if they were not interested to work in Saudi Arabia, he added.

The Saudi embassy allegedly imposed the same condition last year and the ministry later intervened to resolve the matter.

It was not possible to communicate with the Saudi embassy as the official concerned could not be reached over phone or email.

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