Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Saudi deadline for pact on Indonesia maids

Saudi Arabia has given Indonesia two months to approve an agreement between the two countries to lift a ban on the travel of Indonesian housemaids to the Gulf Kingdom under new work terms, a Saudi newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Okaz said Saudi Arabia, the largest Middle East base for Asian domestic workers, reached an agreement with Jakarta early this year for the recruitment of Indonesian housemaids following tough negotiations of several months.

The agreement sets new terms for the maids’ work including higher salary, a one-day weekly holiday, good treatment of maids by employers and other conditions.

“Saudi Arabia has given Indonesia two months until November to approve the new agreement and lift a ban on sending maids from that country to the Kingdom,” the Arabic language daily said, quoting labour sources.
Indonesia stopped sending maids to Saudi Arabia in 2011 and demanded new work terms for them following reports of massive abuse by their Saudi employers.

The new agreement stipulates maids are paid a monthly salary of at least SR1,200 and given a weekly holiday on Friday besides health insurance and other terms.

A copy of a new contract for Indonesian maids published in Saudi newspapers stressed that employers must pay domestic workers on time at the end of every month and must not demand that their maids do jobs other than those specified in the contract.

 “Maids must also be entitled for a break of at least eight hours every work day while they must not be separated from their husbands in case they work for the same employer…they should also be allowed to make regular contacts with their families at home and the employers must not be allowed to see the letters and other messages between their employees,” the report said.

 “The proposed contract also stipulates that employers must mention their address, type of house, size and number of floors, family income and a picture showing all members of that family….the contract, a copy of which must be sent to the Indonesian embassy, should also include a certificate of good conduct for the employers and other family members as well as a statement pledging to treat their workers nicely, refrain from any violence and respect human rights.”

More than 1.5 million housemaids from the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other Asian and African nations work in Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom has been under fire from local and foreign human rights groups over the death of some housemaids, who have been reportedly killed by their employers. Pressure mounted in late 2010 following news that an Indonesian housemaid was severely tortured by its female employer.

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