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The Ethiopian government has finished drafting a new labor agreement designed to protect the rights of its citizens who move to the UAE for jobs as domestic workers. The agreement – to be handed to the UAE Embassy in Addis Ababa – will stipulate a minimum wage, mandatory insurance and outline workers’ rights. It could also remove, within three months, a ban on Ethiopians migrating to the UAE for such jobs. “We are ready to communicate with the UAE,” said Mesganu ArgaMoach, the Ethiopian consul general in Dubai. “We are working on the legal structuring. It will be given to the UAE this month.” In July, Ethiopia banned domestic workers from applying for work in the UAE until an agreement was drawn up between the two countries to protect them from abusive recruiters and sponsors. The UAE Embassy in Ethiopia said it was aware of the fact that the agreement was in its final stages. “We are still waiting to receive it,” said the Ambassador, Dr. Yousuf Eisa Hassan Alsabri. “It is still with the ministry of foreign affairs in Ethiopia.” He said it would be signed and ratified “some weeks” after it was received but did not give an exact time frame.
The Ethiopian consulate in Dubai said it introduced the temporary freeze on workers moving to the UAE after receiving “five to ten” reports of abuse and of unpaid salaries each day. In August, at the consulate’s request, the UAE stopped issuing visas for domestic and blue-collar workers to Ethiopian nationals.
There have been several recent cases of attempted suicide among Ethiopian maids in the UAE, and a court case is ongoing in Abu Dhabi involving an Emirati sponsor accused of torturing her maid to death for “laziness”. More than 100,000 Ethiopians live in the UAE. Before the ban, it was estimated that up to 300 a day were arriving in the Emirates to work as housemaids, security guards and in other blue-collar jobs.