An estimated 8,000 three-wheeler drivers are working as part-time sub agents and are involved in the direct recruitment of Sri Lankans seeking employment placements overseas and their ad hoc operations is hurting the trade, the industry warned yesterday.
The three-wheeler drivers are a part of thousands of others involved in the trade where they make direct contact with the sponsors through various contacts overseas and sometimes in hotels and other locations in the country, Faizer Mackeen with the Association of Licensed Foreign Employment Agencies (ALFEA) told the Sunday Times.
“This is not good for business, it is also dangerous since there is no accountability should something go wrong at either end because these people are not registered and would be hard to trace in an eventuality. Not only that, many of those involved in such rackets are rogue sub agents operating in various parts of the country and the authorities have done very little to rope them in,” Mr. Mackeen said.
He charged that isolated incidents such as the Hikkaduwa case was not good for business adding that the Bureau should draw up an action plan to monitor the activities of these persons.
There are thousands of such sub agents throughout the country and they are a law to themselves and by the action of some of them it has tarnished the image of genuine agents in general and ALFEA in particular, Mr. Mackeen added.
He said in addition the sub agents were also charging huge fees from the foreign employers thereby threatening the industry. “If this is allowed to continue foreign principals would look elsewhere for future recruitment and we may lose out in the market,” said.
The relevant authority conceded there was a problem with these so-called sub agents and others involved in the foreign employment trade. “We are in the process of drawing up plans where the sub agents, whoever they are - cab drivers or otherwise - will have to register their operations with the authority,” Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) Chairman Harischandra Batagoda told the Sunday Times.
He added that the sub agents will be issued special identity cards after a vetting process and it will be made compulsory for them to operate through a recognized agency affiliated to ALFEA. “We are looking at the issue very seriously and the Foreign Employment Ministry is currently drawing up plans towards this end.
The sub agents in the future will be monitored carefully and brought down to a controllable size.
At the moment they are all over the place, but we intend to change all this at the very earliest”, Mr. Batagoda said.
Saudis may stop recruiting Lankan maids over
racket by brokers here
A recruitment source has warned that some Sri Lankan brokers may take advantage of the fact that many Saudis seek the services of Sri Lankan housemaids by encouraging them to run away from their Saudi employers after a certain period of time.
The source speaking to the Saudi Gazette on condition of anonymity, warned Saudis to not recruit maids from Sri Lanka until they are offered better legal protection.
“Unsuspecting Saudis pay thousands of riyals recruiting maids only to have them run away after a few months. Once they return to Sri Lanka, the brokers send more maids to the Kingdom and promise them money if they resign after three months.
It’s a scam and they are making a lot of money by fleecing Saudis,” said the source who added that recruitment offices might not be directly involved in this racket.
The source called for halting recruitment from Sri Lanka for the time being so that no more citizens fall victim to the scheme. He also called upon concerned authorities to step in and take action.