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The first batch of migrant workers selected under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the governments of Italy and Sri Lanka left the island yesterday.

The first batch included eight females as attendants. The air tickets were presented to them by Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera at the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment on Friday. The minister speaking at the occasion said 77 Sri Lankans have been selected for employment in Italy through an exam conducted by the Italian government based on this MoU.

"The eight females leaving as attendants as the first batch will receive higher remunerations and privileges. When this event is reported in the media, various fake groups will start collecting money saying they would send people to Italy. They will even misuse my name and the secretaries names," Perera said.

"Therefore I stress with responsibility not to give any money to a third party in search of Italian jobs since only the ministry and the bureau are involved in this initiative.

I request the people not to be deceived by rackets by organised gangs," the minister said. Bureau officials said the selected migrant workers will receive employment visa for four years, adding that at the end of this period they should return to the country without violating the conditions of the MoU. They said no third party has been involved in this procedure, adding that suitable persons are selected by an exam conducted by the Italian government from the online applications received. Ministry Secretary Col. Nishshanka N Wijeratne and the Minister's Private Secretary Somasundaram also participated.

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Sri Lankans would receive more jobs in Italy in the near future via Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) as per the MoU signed between the two countries in 2011, Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera assured yesterday.

The Minister said that those jobs would be given by his ministry and there was no third party involvement. He warned the public not to fall prey to middlemen who were in the habit of resorting to various illegal methods to send them to Italy.

There were vacancies for care-givers, drivers, home gardeners and skilled employees for agricultural sector in Italy, he said.

Minister Perera said that around 77 people who got through the examination conducted by the Italian Government had been chosen to be selected for employment and among them were eight women who had already received jobs this year in the field of care givers with higher wages.

The job contract period was only for four years and thereafter they should come back to Sri Lanka, the minister said, warning that if they continued to stay in Italy illegally violating the contract, the job agreement between two countries would get canceled.

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Sri Lankan household workers will no longer be required to surrender their passports to their sponsors according to a new agreement signed on Monday between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka.
Under the agreement, the salaries of domestic workers will also be remitted to their bank accounts.
The two governments signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding for the protection of Sri Lankan domestic workers in the Kingdom.
The agreement was signed in Riyadh between Labor Minister Adel Fakeih and Dilan Perera, Sri Lankan minister of foreign employment promotion and welfare.
Until now, Saudi employers have retained the passports of their domestic helps and have paid their salaries in cash.
Saudi Labor Minister Adel Fakeih said that this is an important agreement which protects both the employer and the employee. He also said the agreement would pave the way for more workers coming into the Kingdom.
The agreement will have the same provisions, including a protection mechanism for domestic help like the one the Kingdom signed with India and the Philippines earlier this month.
“The agreement would streamline the recruitment scheme between the two countries and help them resolve several issues facing the recruitment of domestic aides from Colombo to the Kingdom,” Fakeih said.
He said that recruitment should only be processed through licensed employment agencies. He also said that workers should be subject to sound working environments.
He also said the pact ensures that the right workers come for employment and they should be physically fit to serve in the Kingdom and able to adapt themselves to the cultural environment of the host country.
The labor agreement for domestic workers recruitment was a joint effort by Riyadh and Colombo to create a unified and well-regulated system for recruitment with emphasis on monitoring the working conditions of workers.
It will cover 12 categories of domestic workers, including housemaids, drivers, cleaners and waiters employed by individuals.
The proposed agreement includes provisions that stipulate that contracts should be drafted a language that is understood by the worker and that the worker must be informed of what to do and whom to turn to in case of an emergency.
The worker also must be made aware of the facilities available to him or her, especially when it comes to health and personal safety, and the employer must agree to terminate the service contract after a maximum of two years if the employee wishes to leave his or her place of employment. In addition, the employee has the right to retain all his or her travel documents at all times.
Minister Dilan Perera thanked the Saudi government for its wonderful cooperation to materialize the agreement.
He said the decision to sign the agreement was taken during the visit of Ziyad Al-Sayigh, deputy minister for customer services and labor relations to Sri Lanka, in December last year during the two-day Asia-Gulf States Regional Dialogue on standard terms of employment for migrant domestic workers held in the Sri Lankan capital.
Al-Sayigh held discussions with Sri Lankan labor officials on the sidelines of the meeting. The dialogue, sponsored by UN Women and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, was attended by representatives from 20 countries, including Middle Eastern nations.
Describing it as a government to government accord, the Lankan minister said that under the new agreement, the original passports of domestic workers will be in their possession and their salaries will be remitted to their designated banks.
“In my view, this will be the most protective mechanism for domestic workers in the entire Gulf region,” Perera said. There are some 1.7 million Lankan overseas workers, 90 percent of which are in the Middle East.
Vadivel Krishnamoorhy, Sri Lankan ambassador in Riyadh, said that a standard employment agreement for the engagement of Sri Lankan domestic workers in the Kingdom would be adopted following implementation of this agreement.
“Under the pact, domestic workers can be assured of a safer, more decent and less problematic working environment,” he noted.

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–Minister Dilan


Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion & Welfare Dilan Perera has said Sri Lanka which recently assumed the Chairmanship of the Colombo Process - the Regional Consultative Process on migration, will do its utmost to share its experience and bring together the eleven countries and nine observer countries of this group to address common interests, including the mismatches between supply and demand and applying ethical concepts to foreign employment management. He said Sri Lanka will also play its full part in developing the post 2015 Millennium goal development architecture, emphasizing on Migration and Development.

The Minister made these observations when he addressed the 103rd Session of the Council of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday ( 26th November 2013) in Geneva. He said the IOM has been a pillar of strength supporting Sri Lanka’s efforts to give migrant workers employment with dignity.

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Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment together with the Samurdhi Authority of Sri Lanka has introduced a Housing support programme for migrant workers. It is mainly focused for the benefit of migrant domestic workers category, who are within the low income levels.
Migrant workers who are yet to go abroad could handover their Housing Applications to nearest Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Training Centres. Those who are already employed abroad could participate in this scheme by handing over their applications to Sri Lanka missions in their respective countries.

Further information can be obtained from the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment.

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The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) will offer short-term skills and social welfare training for prospective Sri Lankan migrant workers with the opening of its first Pre-Orientation Departure Centre at Airport Junction, Katunayake.

The centre will be registered as the first skills and social training institute, opened by the SLBFE for the benefit of Sri Lankan workers who leave the country for foreign employment.

Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera told the Sunday Observer that over 1.6 million Sri Lankans are employed overseas and, therefore, offering a last minute skills and welfare training program for workers is urgently need, especially for those who secure foreign jobs for the first time.

The Bureau will also provide a short-term comprehensive training program for prospective migrant workers on the language of each country, the social and religious background of the countries they propose to work and how to handle sophisticated equipment at their workplaces.

They will be trained by Bureau staffers and this facility will help improve their standard of the Sri Lankan workforce to reach international levels.

Minister Perera said that it was the Government’s responsibility to look into the welfare of migrant workers, considering their immense contribution to the country’s economy. SLBFE Chairman Amal Senalankadhikara said the centre consists of a conference hall and a hostel for those who arrive at the Bandaranaike International Airport and also from remote areas in Sri Lanka.

Facilities will also be available for female migrant workers to have their make-up done at the centre before their departure.


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Priyanka Kurugala

Programmes introduced to provide skills training for prospective migrant workers are being implemented successfully under the Mahinda Chinthana concept, Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera said.

He said the training programmes are a boon for locals migrating for employment.

The minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Pre - Orientation Departure Centre at Airport Junction, Katunayake.

Perera said Sri Lanka's migrant workers contribute much for the country's economy. “It is the government's duty and responsibility to look into migrant workers' welfare. The Pre - Orientation Departure Centre was set up to help migrant workers face new challenges in the foreign employment market,” he said.

The minister said this facility will help uplift the Sri Lankan work force to reach international standards.
Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment chairman Amal Senalankadhikara said this new facility will help identify international job market demands and adapt to the changes.

“This programme will also help develop women migrant workers' personality,” he said. Senalankadhikara said certain countries recruiting foreign labour are reluctant to abide by international labour laws.

The SLBFE is pressing for these laws to be activated through the International Labour Organisation and International Migration Organisation, he said.

The Centre consists of conference halls and hostels. Facilities are available for women migrant workers to have make- up done at the Centre (15 persons at a time). Facilities will be available 24 hours before departure.

A make-up is done on a woman bound abroad for employment. Looking one are Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera and Foreign Employment Bureau chairman Amal Senalankadhikara.


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The United People's Freedom Alliance's (UPFA)victory at the Provincial Council election in the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Province goes to prove that people have rejected extremist politics that fan the flames of communalism, Foreign Employment and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera yesterday said.

He said the UPFA has won the three provinces in the background of extremist political campaigns that had been set forth by political parties, Tamil National Alliance and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress on communal lines.

“It is a stunning victory for the UPFA.

‘The opposition United National Party(UNP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) have faced the phenomena of declining votes,” he said.

“The people have endorsed the policies of the government. They have demonstrated their confidence and faith in President Mahinda Rajapakaksa at this election, “he pointed out. “The UPFA has achieved tremendous success as a political party with its election victory. It has confirmed the emerging pattern of public acceptance and popularity of the party in the Eastern, North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces, “ he maintained.

‘Now that the election is over and they will have to serve those who voted for the party's victory as well. There can be no discrimination, “ Minister Perera said.

“The councilors are expected to work with members of all political parties, the UNP, the JVP and the TNA, to achieve the development goals in these areas. They must work to serve the public, which will be their task,” he added.


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Oman and Sri Lanka will soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on foreign employment, according to Dilan Perera, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, Sri Lanka.

Speaking at a meeting organised for manpower recruitment agencies in Oman at Al Falaj Hotel, Perera said, “The draft of the historic document has been finalised during my meeting with Minister of Manpower H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah al Bakri and will be signed in the next two months.”

The MoU will benefit both the countries, Sri Lanka will send well-trained manpower to the sultanate, he said.

The minister elaborated on the measures taken by his government to train people in various skills. “In 2011, as many as 262,960 Sri Lankans left the country to work abroad and remittances from foreign employment

was at US$5.1bn during last year. After the end of terrorism on Sri Lankan soil, the government was able to achieve 8.3 per cent economic growth rate in 2011.

We are taking a number of measures to continue our economic growth, while also keeping the inflation low.”

A short film on training of domestic workers in Sri Lanka was shown at the programme that was attended by representatives from a number of manpower recruitment agencies in Oman. the Sri Lankan ambassador to Oman and senior officers from Sri Lanka also spoke on the issue.

Earlier in the day, the minister met H E Bakri and discussed various issues related to manpower. During the meeting, Perera explained measures taken by his government to prevent illegal recruitment and human trafficking. Sri Lanka has a very stringent, anti-trafficking legal framework and is closely cooperating with other like-minded countries in this regard, the minister told mediapersons after the meeting.

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Anirban Ray

Within three years, the minimum age of Sri Lankans looking to come to Oman and other GCC countries to work as housemaids will be raised to 30 from the current 21.

Promising a paradigm shift in the overall image of Sri Lanka, Dilan Perera, the country's Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, said, “We don’t want our women to leave the country. Right now the age limit is 21 years and with time this measure will discourage them to go to other countries to work as housemaids.”

He also said that when housemaids return to the country, there will be other facilities made available to them by the government. “Housemaids and other expatriates who come back from Gulf will be compensated. They will be helped with housing loans. For the low-income group, the government plans to assist by providing 50 per cent of loan, but we will help the middle income groups as well,” he said.

Perera added, “Sri Lankans who come back from Oman and other parts of the world wanting to start a business are always welcome. They will be extended all help from the government.”

The minister, who is on a three-day visit to the sultanate that started from Thursday and addressed a huge audience of Sri Lankans at Hotel Muscat Holiday on Friday. He will be meeting a delegation of Omani officials on Saturday to sign a memorandum of understanding that he said will benefit both the countries.

Perera said, “Ever since my visit in December last year where I came not as a minister but as the president of Sri Lanka Volleyball Federation, I discussed several issues with the authorities of the sultanate. I had also addressed the community at Sri Lankan School Muscat at that time. Based on the discussions, we have worked on several issues.

After extensive work on these suggestions, in the next few months we will offer a slew of benefits from the workforce in Sri Lanka. More skilled labourers instead of housemaids will apply for jobs in the GCC region. We are also looking forward to team up with companies that will give training to our men and women under three divisions, job, company and country specific.”

According to the country’s embassy in Muscat, there are about 25,000 Sri Lankan nationals in Oman and a large number of blue-collared workforce.

Thanking the huge expatriate force of Sri Lanka in Oman, the minister concluded, “In recent times when most of the world was reeling from recession, Sri Lanka was not affected because of the huge remittance that we received from our people all over the world. We thank them and we assure them that the government will undertake every measure to address and resolve every problem of our people.”