Kampala, Uganda | URN | The State Minister for Labour, Employment and Industrial Relations Mwesigwa Rukutana has said that there are plans to include a document processing fee that will be applied on candidates seeking jobs abroad.
Mr Rukutana told Members of Parliament [MPs] on Wednesday 17th, February 2021 during plenary chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga that the fee which will be levied through the recruitment companies will create non-tax revenue that will be appropriated by parliament to the Gender Ministry to improve labour migration management.
Mr Rukutana was presenting a statement on his ministry’s intervention in the plight of stranded domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.
Speaker Kadaga two weeks ago asked the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development to brief Parliament on the matter.
Kadaga’s decision followed the presentation of a matter of national importance by the Bugabula South MP Henry Kibalya who told the house that 43 Ugandans were stuck in Saudi Arabia with no means of returning home and yet the recruiting companies had turned a deaf ear to their plight.
Mr Rukutana says so far 17 of the stranded workers have been repatriated following the intervention of the recruiting companies and the Ugandan Embassy in Riyadh, the return of the remaining 26 has been limited by a Saudi ban on flights to UAE and Egypt which are the main transit destinations for Ugandans from Riyadh.
The minister told the house that the share of unskilled workers among Ugandan domestic workers in the Middle East should be gradually reduced. He says the ministry will undertake skilling and training of the youth to access skilled jobs there.
He reveals that with part of the resources raised through the non-tax revenue, professional training institutions in various vocations will be licensed to train the youth before they are taken abroad.
He says this pre-departure training will include destination language and cross-cultural adjustment.
MPs raised several concerns to the minister regarding what they say is mismanagement of the migrant labour sector.
The Sembabule Woman MP Hanifah Kawooya noted that the house has never received any report from an inter-ministerial committee that was set up to streamline the sector.
She demanded that the minister clearly state the particular mechanisms in strengthening the monitoring of workers and companies instead of asking for funds.
Kibalya noted that MPs who went on a benchmarking trip to the Philippines during the drafting of the Anti-Slavery bill 2018 made recommendations on how the migrant labour sector can be managed but the government has never sought to implement them.
The Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze observed that the Speaker had previously directed the committee on Gender to investigate the issues surrounding externalization of labour and the plight of migrant workers but a report has never been produced.
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The chairperson of the committee Alex Ndeezi noted that the report of his committee on the issue was on the order paper three weeks before the outbreak of COVID-19. He says the report is 90% complete and covers most of the issues raised on the floor by MPs.
Ndeezi has requested the speaker for two weeks to complete the report with the inclusion of the effects of COVID-19 on migrant workers seeking jobs abroad.
The speaker asked the minister to present the proposed regulations to parliament for scrutiny.