HUMAN rights activists from various civil society organisations have refuted the recently signed labour agreement between Uganda and Saudi Arabia to employ graduates as domestic workers
By Clare Muhindo
HUMAN rights activists from various civil society organisations have refuted the recently signed labour agreement between Uganda and Saudi Arabia to employ graduates as domestic workers, arguing that it is modern day slavery.
This call was made at press conference on Monday at the Human Rights Network-Uganda (HURINET) offices in Ntinda.
Mohammed Ndifunda, the chief executive officer HURINET said the agreement was demeaning for graduates who have toiled to get good qualifications.
“Some of these graduates are professionals, and the government should have rolled out a more comprehensive program for the youth, so that they work in more dignified positions and build a future,” Ndifuna said.
Elone Natumanya of NGO Forum cited cases of Ugandans who have been shipped to foreign countries, only to practice prostitution and other forms of slavery.
“Many Ugandans have complained about being harassed in Asian countries. We need to look at this agreement, the terms and conditions of work, to ensure that graduates are not exported as slaves,” she said.
Acting Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development, Pius Bigirimana, Uganda’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Dr. Rashid Yahya Ssemuddu, Minister of Labour, Gender and Social Development, Wilson Mukasa Muruli, Prince of Saudi Arabia Al-Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al , Director General Ministry of Labour Muhammad Alsharikh and, Deputy Minister of International Affairs Ahmed bin Fahad Al-Fahaid posing for the photo after signing the labour pact at the Saudi Ministry of Labour in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Photo by Ramadhan Abbey
The activists called upon the government to rethink the agreement and find better ways of employing the youth within the country.
“The government does not seem to be bothered about where these people are going to work, but rather to let go of them,” Ndifuna said.
Statistics from the ministry of gender, labour and social development indicate that 400,000 youths are annually released to the job market to compete for only 9,000 jobs.
The agreement between Uganda and Saudi Arabia addresses the issue of recruitment costs and both countries agreed to address the matter with a view of making it affordable for prospective workers to work overseas.
Saudi Arabia shall take full responsibility of the welfare of and rights of the workers with the law, including the establishment of a mechanism to provide 24 hour assistance to workers.
The implementation of the agreement is vested with a joint committee comprising representatives led by senior officials in the respective labour departments from both countries.
Human rights activists contest Uganda-Saudi labour pact