By Our Reporter
Government has warned Ugandan migrant workers against going to Jordan to look for jobs.
The warning was sounded by the Minister of State for Labour, Employment, and Industrial Relations at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Col. Okello Charles Engola Macodwogo this morning, 26th October 2022.
Engola who was addressing the media at Uganda Media Center said that whereas Uganda signed three Bilateral Labour Agreements with Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, the agreement with Jordan was suspended.
Engola said the suspension was due to “unending cases of abuse of domestic workers’ rights without redress from the Jordan Government.”
The Externalisation of Labour Programme that was launched in 2005 has lately come under scrutiny with numerous stories of mistreatment of Ugandans especially working in the Middle East.
Since then, Ugandans have taken advantage of the provisions to find jobs abroad. Between 2016 and 2021, licensed companies deployed 201,637 workers abroad.
The major destination countries are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Afghanistan, Bahrain; Iraq and Somalia.
However, externalization to Afghanistan was stopped in 2021 following the withdrawal of American troops. Saudi Arabia takes over 60% of the total migrant workers and over 80% of those are domestic workers.
Engola however still outlined challenges affecting the externalization of labour even in the countries where the bilateral labour agreements are still in force.
He said human trafficking was still rampant because there is inadequate information about formal channels of getting employment abroad.
“Many youths are lured by human traffickers through false representation are deployed into unknown destinations with hostile working conditions,” Engola said.
The Minister also confirmed that there is exploitation of Ugandan migrant workers by illegal Ugandan recruiters who are resident in host countries through false promises for better pay saying they persuade workers to abscond or run away from their jobs.
“The illegal recruiters place these workers into illegal shelters (commonly known as “Biyumba”) under poor hygienic conditions. In cases where the illegal recruiters succeed to find employment for the migrant workers, it is the former who get paid and not the latter,” Engola revealed.
He said government also lacks an efficient and reliable rapid response system for protecting migrant workers whose rights are violated especially domestic workers who sometimes are denied access to their travel documents, communication gadgets or even medical care.
He however said the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant Workers) Regulations, 2021, was introduced with a number of measures to address some of the challenges.