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MENAFN - Arab News - 15/01/2014
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(MENAFN - Arab News) Dilan Perera, visiting Sri Lankan minister of foreign employment promotion and welfare, has offered an artificial leg and employment in Colombo to the Lankan worker who lost his leg while on duty in the Kingdom.

The minister was here to sign an agreement with Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakeih for the protection of Sri Lankan domestic workers in the Kingdom

Ruwan Chamara Herath, 29, lost his leg in a serious accident while driving a vehicle without headlights. He claimed his sponsor forced him to drive the vehicle at midnight even though he knew that the headlights were not working

Upon intervention by the Sri Lankan Consulate, Herath left the Kingdom with an enhanced amount of SR25,000.

Herath had complained that his sponsor wanted to forcibly repatriate him against his wishes without giving proper compensation.

"The SR5,000 which the sponsor has promised is my three months' wages and allowances," he said.

The minister said Herath deserves the fullest support of the government. "He had come here to help his family, but unfortunately, had to return home because of the accident," Perera said. A senior official from the consulate said the mission negotiated raising the compensation amount to SR25,000 with the sponsor, who tried to send him home with a mere SR5,000 as compensation.

"We are happy that we worked out a reasonable amount as compensation upon mutual agreement between the sponsor and the employee," he said

Herath claimed that the company he worked at treats its workers "like slaves without proper regard for local labor regulations." He said he had to make up to 20 trips a day tansporting sand in huge trucks for a cement factory, along with 16 other Sri Lankan drivers

He said he came to the Kingdom to make money to build his dream house on a plot of land he owns in Gampaha, a suburb some 30 km from Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital. He said an artificial leg would cost him equivalent to SR8,000 in Sri Lanka. He said he has no definite plans for his future but he that is confident that philanthropists and his government would help him.

Prior to his departure, Herath was hosted at the consulate for a period of three days. "We offered him support to return home," he said , adding that the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) would also extend their services to rehabilitate him in his hometown.

The SLBFE is a statutory body that looks after the interests of the island's overseas workers and operates under the guidance of Minister Perera. Sri Lankans who go abroad are expected to register themselves with the bureau, which maintains a complete database of all registrants to offer them services when required.

There is some 550,000 Sri Lankans working in the Kingdom, which is the largest concentration of the island's workers in the Middle East.

The visiting minister also visited the Sri Lankan missions in Riyadh and Jeddah. He listened to the grievances of the runaway maids who have sought shelter at the missions

Perera said the number of complaints from the housemaids working in the Kingdom are minimal compared to the Lankan worker population in Saudi Arabia

The Riyadh Embassy receives an average of 10 runaway maids, while its consulate in Jeddah gets around three cases a day


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