'Too costly' for Saudi firms

They stop hiring workers from Bangladesh
In this file photo, Bangladesh expatriates wait to claim travel documents at their consulate in Jeddah. Photo:AN

Recruitment offices in Saudi Arabia have decided to stop hiring Bangladeshi domestic workers, claiming that a supply crunch has raised costs, says Arab News.

According to a report the local English daily ran yesterday, Ibrahim Al-Megheimish, a recruitment expert, said there were too few Bangladeshi workers seeking employment, which meant costs had risen from $1,000 (SR 3,751) to $1,800 (SR 6,752) to get them there.

The cost of SR 7,000 outlined by the Saudi ministry of labour was not enough to cover all the expenses incurred in bringing workers to the country. This had also been the complaint of other recruitment office owners, who said costs had risen 80 percent, he added.

The expert said the ministry's claim that 500,000 Bangladeshi domestic workers would seek employment in the KSA had not materialised. Currently only four to six workers a week are supplied for work in Saudi Arabia.

“The training centres in Bangladesh are limited. In addition, the training period is four weeks, which has resulted in delays and penalties for workers,” Arab News quoted Al-Megheimish as saying.

Contacted, Hazrat Ali, additional secretary of Bangladesh expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry, said they had no information on such decision by the Saudi recruiters.

Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman, a Bangladeshi private agent who recruits female domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, admitted that the supply of such workers had indeed declined, and their recruitment cost which is borne by the employers gone up.

“There is a gap between the supply and the demand. Saudi Arabia needs more female domestic workers, but the supply [from Bangladesh] is poor,” he told The Daily Star.

He claimed that the countries like Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia were now reluctant to send female domestic workers abroad, meaning it would be “hard” for the Saudi recruiters to stop hiring Bangladeshi workers.

Lifting a seven-year ban, Dhaka and Riyadh on February 10 signed a deal to resume recruitment of workers from Bangladesh on a gradual basis, beginning with domestic helps.

Until July, more than 2,200 domestic workers were recruited in the KSA whereas the average yearly recruitment was only about 200 between 2009 and 2014, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training data.

According to yesterday's Arab News report, an official at the Saudi embassy in Nepal said the two countries would ink a labour agreement “soon” for recruiting domestic workers in the KSA.


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