Muscat: Manpower recruitment offices now fiercely compete with a thriving racket run by people looking to make quick money from families by offering to bring housemaids in Oman at half of what is charged by the agencies.
Recruitment offices charge up to OMR1,000 for a housemaid, but often, relatives of housemaids already living in Oman act as brokers and offer a rather generous ‘discount,’ charging about OMR500, which is half the market price for hiring house help.
Recruiting managers say the loss of business because of such competition was costing them dearly and urged the government to check the illegal practice.
“Most of the time, housemaids themselves strike these deals. They have documents of their friends in their native countries and charge much less than what we normally do. This impacts our businesses. The government needs to stop this because the practice is now rampant across the country,” Ashraf Al Hakmani, general manager of Al Hakmani Manpower Recruitments, told the Times of Oman.
Other recruiting agencies, who feel they are suffering on account of rising numbers of illegal recruiters, blame local families who fall for cheaper solutions.
“Omani families who want to save money must be punished as well, besides people who supply housemaids through illegal means. They are the ones who are encouraging this illegitimate business. They should know that there are no guarantees when they choose to recruit through people who are not licensed to supply housemaids,” said Faisal Al Battashi, manager of Al Maheet Sharqiya Manpower Co.
But some families, who prefer not to go through licensed manpower offices, strongly defend their decision.
“Manpower companies are greedy. They charge a lot and do very little. If they reduce their prices and stop taking advantage of families looking to employ a maid, then there will be no need for us to risk breaking the law. They have only themselves to blame,” a man who did not want to be identified, told the Times of Oman. However, housemaids have their own take on the story. They say some sponsors charge money if a housemaid wants to change employers.
“My former boss asked me to pay him back his recruitment costs when I wanted to work for another household. I did not have the entire amount.
“So, I paid half the amount and my new employer paid the rest. This is unlawful but such sponsors get away with it,” a Sri Lankan housemaid, Smita, who did not want to reveal any other information, said.
When contacted by the Times of Oman, the Ministry of Manpower refused to make any comment on the issue.