The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is need of 80,000 Ugandans to work there, according to Hajat Janat Mukwaya, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Minister Mukwaya in Friday’s statement said she was informed of the availability of the jobs she did not specify by the Emirates minister who was in Uganda late June to sign a memorandum of understanding on labour export to that country.
“Immediately upon signing of the MoU, my colleague Minister H.E Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli challenged me as follows: “I need 80,000 Uganda workers in the next 12 months”. This is a huge undertaking and I urge the private sector to take up this offer,” Mukwaya said, adding that Uganda has already sent 40,000 workers to UAE.
Hoowever, Premier Recruitment Limited, a subsidiary of Ruparelia Group of companies that specialises in labour recruitment and export has been praised for its efficiency and transparency in its process. The company is supplies young men and women to Qarar and middle East.
She said the signed MoU between the Government of Uganda and UAE offers protection to Ugandan migrants in a number of ways, especially through: Strengthening cooperation by providing a legal framework for the employment of Manpower from Uganda in the UAE; establishing a mechanism to discuss and exchange views on labour related problems and to resolve any outstanding issues relating to workers and their rights.
The others are; creating mutual understanding between the Governments of the two countries to protect all workers, with special consideration to the specific vulnerabilities of female migrant workers; facilitating healthy cooperation and exchange of information on best practices between the two states on labour migration for mutual benefits; and Establishing a mechanism to discuss and exchange views on labour related problems and any outstanding issues relating to workers wellbeing and their rights.
She said the UAE has been the largest destination for the bulk of Ugandan migrant workers. Without an undertaking with the UAE Government, protection of migrant workers and their welfare has not been very easy. The unregulated business had given room to illegal recruitment, trafficking and exploitation.
“However, with an agreement in place, more organized and safe employment shall be created. The terms and conditions of employment of Ugandan worker in the United Arab Emirates shall be defined by an individual employment contract between the worker and the employer,” she said.
Further, she said, an offer that is mirrored on the contract will be signed by both parties prior to the worker’s departure from Uganda. The written text of the employment offer shall be delivered to the prospective worker in English and Arabic and explained by the Ugandan recruitment agency to the recipient where unclear.
All recruitment, hiring and placement activities of workers in both countries shall be permitted only under recruitment companies licensed by both governments.
According to the MoU, upon arrival of the worker in the United Arab Emirates he/she will sign an employment contract that will clearly state the rights and obligations of the worker and employer, in conformity with the labour laws of the United Arab Emirates, and the contract will be duly filed with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization in the UAE to constitute the sole binding contract document for the purpose of enforcement in the United Arab Emirates.
The terms and conditions of employment, as stated in the contract, shall not vary from those contained in the employment offer except for alterations that are favorable to the worker.
“One sticking point has been the role of the middlemen who end up taking a huge share of the recruitment and placement costs. For us in Uganda, we have always looked forward to a situation where such charges are eliminated for all categories of workers. We are glad that Article 5 of the MoU is clear on that, by ensuring that the employer incurs all recruitment fees and that none shall be levied on the worker. This therefore ends the burden of placement fees that have previously been borne by the worker and hence ends exploitation that has been going on,” she said.
She added: “I have proposed that we set up the Joint Committee within three months of coming into operation of this MoU to, among others, make periodic reviews, assessment and monitoring of the implementation of the provisions of this MoU. The team will be composed of officials from my Ministry, as well as Ministries responsible for Foreign Affairs, Justice, Internal Affairs, and Security. The Committee will also make necessary recommendations to resolve any disputes arising from the implementation of the provision of this MoU or amendments to this MoU as may be necessary.”
By signing the MoU, she said, the two countries present a critical effort in the fight against human trafficking that has become a menace. This shall be achieved by the two countries enforcing fair and transparent recruitment practices in their respective jurisdiction and ensuring that all actors comply in the process of recruiting Ugandan workers for employment in the UAE in accordance with the rule of law.
She said her ministry shall continue the efforts to have more bilateral labour agreements signed with other countries for purposes of ensuring the safety and productivity of Uganda’s labour in overseas employment.
She urged the public, most especially the job seekers, to remain vigilant, seek guidance from the ministry, and report any suspected illegal recruiter and anybody involved in any form of exploitation. “We remain committed to ensuring safe, orderly, regular, dignified and productive migration for our people,” she said.
Meanwhile, The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has tasked Mukwaya to respond to concerns raised by MPs on torture meted on Ugandans working abroad especiallu in the middle East.
The Deputy Speaker made the directive following concerns by Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze, who called for stringent action against non-licensed labour export companies.
“The minister must come with statistics and make an explanation to the House. There are errant companies that are not licensed to carry out labour export but are still doing it. We shall debate and get a way forward on this,” said Oulanyah.
According to Nambooze, many girls working outside the country have been tortured by their employers and cannot return to Uganda because their passports are confiscated.
“We do not have space at our embassy in Abu Dhabi; so our girls just sleep on the floor. I would like to request you, Mr. Speaker, to order that our Government does everything possible to immediately bring back these girls,” Nambooze said.
Nambooze who raised these concerns during a sitting of Parliament, Thursday, 11 July 2019, called for urgent establishment of a public funded labour export agency adding that it would provide a safe mode of labour export. Nambooze said that there is also need to investigate the immigration officials.
“A girl from Mukono who was not yet 18 years old was offered a job abroad and immigration officials forged a passport and gave her an adult age of 22 years and she is being tortured too,” she added
Oulanyah, however, noted that the issues concerning export of labour ought to be segregated saying that, “a good percentage of Ugandans abroad have good jobs and settled in well, while those who had been transferred by dubious companies were facing hard time abroad”.
“We should not over generalize this debate but rather separate the issues and deal with them specifically. We need a system of informing respective embassies whenever our children go to seek labour abroad so that they can keep track of them,” said Oulanyah.