- Aimed at protecting labour rights of Sri Lankan migrant workers
- About 80% of SL’s migrant workers are employed in UAE and other ME countries
- Quarantine centres to be set up to expedite repatriation of Lankan migrant workers
By Nishel Fernando
Following the Philippines’ recent success in entering into a historic labour accord with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sri Lanka’s Labour Ministry seeks a similar labour accord with the UAE to protect the labour rights of Sri Lankan migrant workers employed in that country.
“I have already taken steps to instruct the Foreign Affairs Ministry and our embassy in the UAE to impress upon the UAE government to enter into a similar agreement between the two governments. The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment is working on this,” Labour Minister Nimal Sirpala de Silva said.
On March 2, this year, the governments of the Philippines and UAE signed a historic agreement, giving greater protection to Filipino household service workers in the UAE.
In particular, the MoU signed between the two countries assures basic working conditions for Filipino migrant workers in the UAE, including conditions such as the right for minimum of eight continuous hours of sleep every night and the right for the domestic workers to keep their passports or identification documents under their custody. After entering into the labour accord with the UAE, the Philippines resumed migration of Filipino household service workers to the UAE, ending the suspension, which came into effect in 2014.
Over 80 percent of Sri Lanka’s migrant workers are employed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE, according to the Labour Ministry. Meanwhile, the minister announced that the COVID-19 prevention task force has agreed to set up eight quarantine centres initially to expedite repatriation of Sri Lankan migrant workers, particular from the Middle East region. The minister expects the repatriation process of migrant workers to increase from next week onwards. According to the Labour Ministry, 20,000-30,0000 Sri Lankan migrant workers are awaiting to return to the country.