Differences over salary delay hiring from Dhaka


JEDDAH —  The Ministry of Labor reported on its official Twitter feed that it will soon announce the arrival of new manpower from Bangladesh once the two countries finalize a few procedures.

The ministry said it signed an agreement in Dhaka on Tuesday to import Bangladeshi workers on a monthly salary of SR800.

The Saudi Labor Department will control the recruitment cost, it said. The agreement was signed by the ministry’s undersecretary Ahmed Al-Fihaid, who is currently on a visit to Bangladesh as the head of a 19-member delegation.

However, Bangladeshi Minister of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Khandker Mosharraf Hossain was quoted as saying in a section of the local press that the minimum wage for a Bangladeshi worker in Saudi Arabia should not be less than SR1,200-SR1,500.

“We have agreed with the Saudi side on this salary. If the Kingdom is not entirely committed to this amount, no worker will leave the country,” he said.

The minister said about 10,000 workers from his country will proceed to the Saudi Arabia every month. Most of the recruits will be domestic helpers consisting mainly of drivers and maids.

The Saudi Labor Ministry’s undersecretary said the Saudi Arabia recruited 1.3 million foreign workers last year and intends to hire a similar number of workers in 2015.

“The priority in foreign manpower recruitment will be given to Bangladesh,” he added.

According to press reports in Dhaka, Saudi Arabia hosts about 29 percent of 9.17 million overseas Bangladeshi workers.

The Kingdom halted hiring construction and agriculture workers from Bangladesh in 2008. Subsequently, manpower from Bangladesh dropped from 15,000 monthly arrivals to 10,000.

Labor Minister Adel Fakeih announced on Jan. 21 that the door to import manpower from Bangladesh would soon be reopened.

According to official Bangladeshi government statistics, there are 1.3 million Bangladeshis currently working in the Saudi Arabia. Other official figures put that number at 2.63 million.

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