The Sri Lankan Embassy in UAE has permanently blacklisted only one recruitment agency which was operating from Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, the labour welfare officer at the embassy said.
Some housemaids having disputes with employers complained to the embassy that a Sri Lankan woman, who was running the agency which recruited them, threatened and even physically tortured them when they raised their grievances with her, Hemantha Kahawalage, Labour Welfare Officer, said.
“We found that she [the owner of the agency] was a housemaid and started running the agency with the help of some men, finding it a lucrative business,” he said. “She did not have any professional competence to run a recruitment agency. And considering the number of complaints against her, we blacklisted her agency permanently,” Kahawalage explained.
A major factor in reducing the number of runaway Sri Lankan housemaids is the support from the UAE authorities, the Sri Lankan Embassy said. “Whenever we took up the grievances of housemaids, the Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Naturalisation and Residency Directorate and Abu Dhabi Judicial Authorities immediately addressed the issue. So, those housemaids who wanted to go back home were sent back immediately,” Kahawalage said.
In the case of labourers, the Ministry of Labour also takes prompt action, he said. “But most of the workers and housemaids have a misconception that it is very difficult to get relief from local authorities.
This misconception encourages unscrupulous agents and employers,” he said. “We are developing awareness among the working class about the mechanism offered by local authorities to address their grievances,” he said.