Sri Lanka to joint 10 countries to lobby for migrant worker’s rights
COLOMBO, May 5 – Sri Lanka is considering joining 10 other countries to lobby for greater rights for its nearly two million migrant workers, an official said on Monday.
Welfare benefits that the countries would canvass for include better wages, benefits and insurance coverage for local expatriate workers taking up employment in West Asia and other foreign capitals.
Additional General Manager of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLFEB) Mangala Randeniya told reporters matters will be taken up for discussion when the group of countries meet at the Colombo Process Meet to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The conference will be chaired by Sri Lanka’s Foreign Employment Minister Dilan Perera.
The countries expected to attend the Colombo Process Meet are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, the Philippines and Malaysia.
“Conditions need to be improved for migrant workers, particularly housemaids who are employed predominantly in the Middle East,” Randeniya said.
In February, the SLFEB signed off on a landmark migrant worker agreement with Saudi Arabia that could result in better working conditions for thousands of Sri Lankans.
The agreement on domestic worker recruitment between Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia aims to improve and safeguard the rights of migrant domestic workers. A similar agreement was also signed by the Philippines and India.
Currently, about 500,000 Sri Lankans are employed in Saudi Arabia and 60 percent of them are women. Overall Sri Lanka has about two million migrant workers, mostly in the Middle East.
The country received 6 billion U.S. dollars in remittances in 2013, which became the biggest source of foreign earnings for the 60-billion-U.S.-dollar economy. (