An agreement is entered with the Saudi government for the exportation of jobless Ugandans to work as domestic workers.
By Henry Sekanjako
In order to cover the unemployment gap in the country, the Ugandan government has entered into an agreement with the Saudi Arabia government for the exportation of jobless Ugandans to work as domestic workers.
Under the agreement which takes effect in September, thousands of jobless youth will be recruited as private pilots, domestic accounts staff, personal doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, secretaries, security guards, private drives and housemaids to work in Saudi Arabia.
According to Muruli Mukasa, the minister for gender labour and social development, the recruitment of the targeted workforce will be done by authentic private labour companies on behalf of the government.
“This agreement is very significant. It is the first of its kind we have signed with a labour-destined country, and we are very confident that after this agreement, cases of abuse of Ugandans will be minimal,” he said.
The minister told reporters at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala that the agreement is intended to guarantee the protection of the rights and promotion of welfare of immigrant workers in view of the experience of uncoordinated and illegal movement of workers out of the country.
Muruli further noted that the agreement prohibits labour companies from charging and deducting monies off salaries of applicants, adding that legal measures will be taken against recruitment agencies which violate the applicable laws.
“Under this agreement employers will be required to provide a return air ticket, decent accommodation, identity cards on arrival, health insurance, transport to and from work and eight working hours a day. Beyond this, employees will be paid overtime allowances,” explained the government official.
He added that the agreement also provides for a minimum wage where the lowest paid employee will not be below $200 (sh700,000) in addition to other benefits.
“Employers will be required to facilitate the issuance of the exit visas for repatriation of the workers upon contract completion or in emergency, as the situation may require."
In 2014 the government through the ministry of gender, labour and social development slapped a ban on the exportation of Ugandans to other countries to work as house maids on grounds of exploitation at the hands of their employees.
The government’s decision to ban the export of housemaids was reportedly informed by increasing complaints of abuse filed by Ugandan housemaids working abroad.
However according to Muruli, the agreement will ensure that all Ugandans employed as domestic workers abroad are respected.
“A joint technical committee to coordinate between government of Uganda and governments of those countries to which Ugandan workers will be hired to work to conduct consultative meetings in Uganda and the countries where the immigrant workers are employed,” he stated.
He added that discussions are in advanced stages to also conclude more agreements for public workers in factories, banks, hospitals, hotels construction firms among others in countries like Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait.
According to the ministry, unemployment in Uganda is still a challenge which needs to be addressed. Statistics by the ministry indicate that 12 million Ugandans are able to work profitably with 4.4 million people jobless.
Gov’t secures 3,000 jobs for Ugandans in Saudi Arabia