By Moses Walubiri
The opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has decried government's "open-door policy" on issues of migrant labor, calling for more stringent policies in the labor market tailored to giving Ugandans preferential treatment over foreigners.
FDC contends that government's laxity in supervision and implementation of labor laws on issuance of work permits to migrant workers has seen many foreign owned firms breach rules on employing aliens.
"Every single job you give a foreigner, another Ugandan is rendered jobless besides compounding capital flight," Robinson Kasozi told journalists at FDC's weekly press briefing.
"We are mindful of the East African protocol on free movement of labor between member states, but even under this arrangement, Ugandans deserve to be given priority," Kasozi, a former deputy minister of tourism with a long history in the labor movement said.
The former Secretary General of NOTU - one of Uganda's biggest labor union - impugned the tendency of foreigners working as clerks, drivers, store keepers and gate keepers, jobs he contends that Ugandans are capable of doing.
"In instances where special expertise is required and it’s locally lacking, it's understandable to employ a foreigner, but not simple tasks like courier services," he said.
Uganda is grappling with the problem of youth unemployment, with murmurs in some quarters about increased number of foreigners compounding unemployment growing into a chorus.
Statistics from the labor department show that out of the 400,000 students who graduate from various tertiary institutions across the country each year, only 8,000 have a chance of being gainfully employed.
Last year, government threw a dragnet around the country in an operation aimed at arresting and deporting undocumented foreigners.