Foreign workers gather outside Saudi immigration department as they try to get visas and legalise their work situation, in this Nov. 3, 2013 file photo, in Riyadh. (AFP)
The Kingdom’s new system of hiring out expatriate workers on an hourly basis does not constitute human trafficking or a form of modern-day slavery, a source at the Labor Ministry was quoted as saying on Thursday.
The source said that some countries have leveled this accusation at the Kingdom and are refusing to deal with recruitment agencies in the country. However, other countries have seen nothing wrong with the system because they believe this provides employment for their citizens, the source said.
International organizations have approved the system, but the Kingdom’s scholars have not issued a fatwa, or religious edict, in this regard yet, the source said.
Yahya Maqbule, chairman of the recruitment committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the ministry’s Musaned program would help eliminate corrupt recruiters from the industry.
This includes operators abroad who conduct business informally, and others who send untrained and unqualified workers to the Kingdom, he said at a meeting held in Jeddah on Wednesday with hiring offices.
Several participants at the meeting complained about the services offered on the ministry’s Musaned website. They said that there was still inadequate information, visa delays, the lack of a single system that accept or rejects applications, and no standardization of contracts.
Although many citizens have not yet used the Musaned’s services, this would not affect recruitment from abroad, said Maqbule. He said that over time the system would iron out many problems currently facing operators in the industry. It would also assist expatriate workers that have disputes over payment and other issues, he said.
Majid Mohammed Anzan, the director of business development and sales at Alam company, which is responsible for managing the Musaned management system, said one of the latest challenges for the ministry is preventing unscrupulous operators from overcharging for recruitment services.
The ministry also wants to ensure that all recruitment firms and offices are transparent in their dealing with the public and publish their rates on the site. He said the ministry plans to issue all visas for domestic workers through the site by the start of next year.