Salary row derails Saudi-Indonesian talks

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A source in the Saudi Council of Chambers (SCC) said a meeting held on Monday between members of the Saudi national recruitment committee and a delegation from the Indonesian industrial union has failed due to differences over wages.

The source noted the Indonesian side had demanded salaries of at least SR1,900 a month for its workers and the Saudi side rejected the stipulation.

The source said: “The Indonesian side has asked for a SR1,500 monthly salary in addition to SR400 for working on Fridays, clear exploitation by the Indonesians.

“The Saudi side instead offered a SR1,000 monthly salary, in addition to SR200 for working on Fridays.”

The source noted the Saudi side could not accept the Indonesians’ demand and that visas from Indonesia should not be issued unless a salary agreement is reached.

Investor in the recruitment sector, Faisal Al-Harandahah, said the high salaries demanded by the Indonesians are an exploitation of Saudi citizens and there are alternative countries that export workers to the Kingdom such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Morocco and soon India.

He added that the concerned authorities should be strict with such exploitation of Saudi citizens and such demands should not be met.

Al-Harandahah stressed Indonesians are the biggest losers since Saudi Arabia is the largest market for recruiting labor.

The delegation arrived in Riyadh at the beginning of this week to discuss the agreement signed with the Kingdom in February for the recruitment of Indonesian workers.

The Ministry of Labor has signed agreements with three countries for the recruitment of workers, while 14 other countries have expressed their preliminary acceptance to export workers to the Kingdom.

Earlier this week, Saudi Gazette quoted Deputy Minister of Labor Dr. Mufarrej Al-Huqbani as saying that the labor contract with India will encourage other Asian and African countries to enter into bilateral agreements on the recruitment of domestic helpers.

Addressing the third annual meeting of ambassadors and labor representatives for countries sending workers to the Kingdom, Al-Huqbani said the arrival of Indian workers to the Kingdom is drawing near. This is the evidence of the effectiveness of the bilateral agreement with countries sending workers to the Kingdom, he was quoted as saying.

Saudi Arabia and India signed the bilateral agreement on labor cooperation for domestic workers’ recruitment in New Delhi in January this year.

(This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on May 20, 2014)

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