Parliament debates better management of the labour export sector in Uganda

On Wednes­day 17th Feb­ru­ary 2021, Hon. Mwe­sigwa Ruku­tana, State Min­is­ter of Labour pre­sented a state­ment on the sta­tus of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the di­rec­tives is­sued by Min­istry of Gen­der, Labour and So­cial De­vel­op­ment to labour re­cruit­ment com­pa­nies to fa­cil­i­tate the repa­tri­a­tion of Ugan­dans stranded in Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia.

The Minister told parliament chaired by Rht. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga that there was already compliance of the labour recruitment agencies to the directive and he also noted that there had been de­lays with the air­lines which were supposed to repa­tri­ate stranded Ugan­dans.

Issues raised by parliament include;

The cun­ning na­ture of some of the labour re­cruit­ment com­pa­nies who advertise attractive terms of payment, de­cent work­ing con­di­tions among oth­ers which is the opposite in reality.

Re­luc­tance of gov­ern­men­t to man­age the is­sue because of some influential gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials owning the agen­cies and re­cruit­ment firms en­gaged in the trade of persons.

Members of the house recommendations

Gov­ern­ment should en­ter into Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing with all coun­tries that ben­e­fit from Ugan­dan ex­ported labour to cre­ate san­ity in the labour ex­por­t sec­tor.

Gov­ern­ment should take a keen in­ter­est in the agree­ments be­tween the labour re­cruit­ment com­pa­nies and the Ugan­dans who go to work abroad to be able to deal with issues to do with ex­ploitation of Ugan­dans.

Ruku­tana re­futed claims that most of the agen­cies re­cruit­ing Ugan­dans to work abroad are owned by gov­ern­ment se­nior of­fi­cials. He, how­ever, ac­knowl­edged that there have been cases of hu­man traf­fick­ing of Ugan­dans and gross breach of con­tracts which the min­istry has endeavored to man­age as they arise.

The min­is­ter re­it­er­ated gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment to en­sure the safety of its Nationals and bet­ter man­age­ment of labour ex­por­t. He ap­pealed to Par­lia­ment for more fund­ing which he said is key to­wards ad­dress­ing the said con­cerns.

“It is well known that for any ex­port to be gain­ful to any coun­try, it must not be raw, it should be processed and of high qual­ity. There­fore, there is need to skill Ugan­dans be­fore they go to work abroad.” Said Ruku­tana.

The Speaker ap­pealed to the gov­ern­ment to ac­cept that there are not enough jobs in Uganda, and take up labour ex­por­ta­tion as one of its man­date.

She added that many Ugan­dans con­tinue to suf­fer at the hands of in­di­vid­u­als and some im­proper labour re­cruit­ment com­pa­nies.

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