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Uganda's position on domestic workers export

By Admin

Added 27th May 2017 12:14 PM

In Uganda, the following measures have been taken to promote safe migration

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Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development 


Following the Minister’s statement on Friday, May 19 to Parliament on the lifting of the ban on domestic workers abroad and my submission at the Media Centre on Thursday, May 18 on the externalisation of labour, the ministry has received a number of requests for clarification on several issues including the lifting of the ban on the externalisation of domestic workers as well as the nature and amount of fees payable by a migrant worker.

The Government decided to lift the ban on the externalisation of labour on two grounds. First, despite the ban, trafficking of persons for domestic work continued. Unfortunately the majority of the trafficked workers ended in exploitative work and in unknown destinations. This made it necessary to reopen a safe and monitored official channel of externalisation of domestic workers. Secondly, a number of measures aimed at protecting the rights of migrant workers have been taken by the Government of Uganda and some recipient countries.

In Uganda, the following measures have been taken to promote safe migration:

  1. Coordination between the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and other agencies like the Directorate of Immigration, ISO, ESO and the Police has been improved at all exit points;

  2. A four party employment contract which makes the recruitment company both in Uganda and in the recipient country jointly and severally liable for any breach of a worker’s contract has been adopted;

  3. So far, two Bilateral Labour Agreements have been signed between the Government of Uganda and the respective Governments of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan;

  4. More regular monitoring visits to host countries have been planned;

  5. Only foreign recruitment companies that have been accredited by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development on the recommendation of Uganda’s Mission accredited to the prospective recipient country will be allowed to recruit domestic workers from Uganda;

  6. All demand letters and powers of attorney from foreign recruitment agencies to recruitment agencies in Uganda will be vetted by Uganda’s Mission accredited to the prospective recipient country;

  7. Every prospective employment contract for domestic  workers will be authenticated by Uganda’s mission accredited to the prospective recipient country before a domestic workers is cleared to leave;

  8. The foreign recruitment company will not transfer responsibility over a domestic worker to an individual. In other words, a foreign recruitment company will retain full responsibility over any worker recruited from Uganda during the contract period;

  9. The Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies has agreed to establish an Emergency Fund that will cater for:

  1. Operations of a transit centre at Entebbe and in recipient countries;

  2. Supporting emergency medical services and repatriation; and

  3. Psychosocial support and legal aid.

  1. Every migrant worker will undergo mandatory pre-departure orientation and training prior to exit clearance by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

  1. In Saudi Arabia and Jordan (Countries with whom Uganda has concluded Bilateral Agreements), the following measures have been taken to protect the rights of Ugandan migrant workers:

  1. Only licensed recruitment companies will be allowed to recruit workers from Uganda;

  2. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have developed online systems for tracking the recruitment and location of domestic migrant workers;

  3. Saudi Arabia and Jordan have accepted to submit quarterly reports on the status of each and every Ugandan worker;

  4. All domestic workers are provided with a telephone Sim Card on arrival by the respective Governments of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Some companies will soon begin issuing cell phones;

  5. The Saudi Government has developed a system for monitoring the payment of wages of domestic workers;

  6. A number of recruitment companies in Saudi Arabia and Jordan have developed internal complaints and redress mechanisms for domestic workers. This includes Call Centers and Ugandan Supervisors charged with the responsibility of monitoring the conditions of Ugandan migrant workers in the households.


The lifting of the ban on the externalisation of domestic workers is effective for only countries that have concluded a Bilateral Labour Agreement with Uganda. That is Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Regarding, recruitment, placement and related fees, I would like to clarify that under Regulation 29 of the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant Workers Abroad) Regulations, 2005 candidates for migrant work may be charged the following fees:

 

  1. Sh50,000 as administrative costs for recruitment and deployment

  2. Other fees to cover:

  1. Joining air ticket;

  2. Interpol clearance;

  3. Trade testing where applicable;

  4. Medical examination;

  5. Inoculation (including yellow fever);

  6. Visa;and

  7. Placement fees.

 
Placement fees should be collected from a candidate for work abroad only and only after the worker has signed the employment contract.  Such payments should be covered by receipts clearly showing the amount and purpose of the payment.
 

Although the law permits the charging of recruitment, placement and related fees, the nature and amount of fees paid by Ugandan candidates for migrant work abroad varies by country and occupation as indicated here below:
 

  1. For domestic workers destined for Saudi Arabia and Jordan, all the recruitment and placement costs are covered. This includes air ticket, visa fee, passport, medical and inoculation. Therefore, candidates for domestic work destined for Saudi Arabia and Jordan must not pay any fee whatsoever. This principle will apply to all other countries with whom the Government is going to conclude Bilateral Labour Agreements;

  2. Visa and air ticket costs are covered for other categories of workers (professionals, Drivers, labourers etc) destined for Sauidi Arabia. Therefore, no worker in this category destined for Saudi Arabia should foot costs for the air ticket and visa;

  3. All the recruitment, placement and related costs are fully covered for workers destined for Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.  Therefore, candidates for migrant work destined for Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia must not pay any fee whatsoever;

  4. All migrant workers who do not fall in the categories above will foot the costs of their travel

    Persons interested in traveling abroad for work should guard against traffickers and unlicensed recruitment companies.  Any person in doubt about the credibility of his or her recruiter should contact the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development on 0414-345002

The list of recruitment companies is available.

The writer is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development

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