Minister speaks on 80,000 Ugandans slaving for Arabs

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Minister Mukwaya addressing press in Kampala

Gender and Labour minister Hon Janet Mukwaya says Uganda has signed more bilateral agreements to protect Ugandan workers working abroad in Jordan, UAE and other countries.

“This is in effort to reduce unemployment in the country. Over 80,000 citizens work in those countries,” Hon Mukwaya told press Friday at Uganda Media Centre.

She said working contracts have been put in place to ensure that no circumstances of recent events will happen again on Ugandans who go to work abroad.

The minister said the bilateral agreements have also been signed between specific countries for externalisation of labour.

These follow Labour Laws of all countries in play together with those of Uganda.

Only 154 Ugandan companies have been licensed to take Ugandans abroad to work.

She said employment fees being charged on employees working abroad are supposed to be on the recruiters.

“Security, Foreign, Internal Affairs and my ministry will continue monitoring so that this is implemented. There’s also effort to stop human trafficking.”

She added: “Every 5 years, we shall be reviewing the bilateral agreements. There was laxity too in implementing and management of the rules, laws and regulations by these companies that take people to work abroad.”

The minister said she has asked recruiting companies to let employees working abroad manage their bank accounts.

“We have 52,000 immigrants in Oman but we don’t have a bilateral agreement with the country, I’m working on that as well. We shall be dealing with only licensed companies.”

Trouble

Parliament Thursday directed government to explain measures put in place to rescue Ugandan girls who are trapped in foreign labour markets.

Mukono Municipality Member of Parliament Betty Nambooze told the House that more than 53 girls are stranded at the Ugandan embassy in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, with no hope of returning home.

“These girls sent out a distress call to me yesterday (Wednesday) that they ran [away] from their masters in various homes because of mistreatment,” Ms Nambooze said.

Nambooze added that several other Ugandan women are trapped in different places of work abroad.

She said the girls are bonded to their employment contracts, which makes it difficult for them to have exit in the event of trouble or abuse.

“When they demand to return home, they are asked to pay between $3,000 to $5,000 (Shs11m to Shs18m) as employers turn what would have been commission fees to labour agencies into a price for buying our people.”

The deputy of Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, tasked the Labour Ministry to urgently inquire into the matter and report its findings to Parliament not later than Tuesday.

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