Betty Amongi

Government of Uganda has signed the new Bilateral Labour Agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Eagle Online has reliably learnt. The agreement was signed by Betty Amongi, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

In December 2022, the government of Uganda suspended a bilateral labour export agreement with Saudi Arabia over the continuous mistreatment and torture of Ugandan migrant workers.

In 2017, the government of Uganda signed a five-year labor agreement with Saudi Arabia aimed at promoting the welfare and rights of Ugandan migrant workers.

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The Observer newspaper on December 23, reported that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Aggrey David Kibenge had issued directives to recruitment agencies and pre-departure orientation and training institutions that the agreement with Saudi Arabia had been suspended effective immediately pending re-negotiations of the agreement.

“This is therefore, to inform you that clearance and deployment of migrant workers, approval of job orders, and training of migrant workers under this agreement are suspended with immediate effect. Note, however, that this temporary suspension does not affect migrant workers whose travel had already been cleared by the ministry, prior to this date, and are in possession of signed contracts, travel tickets, and entry visas” read the letter in part.

Kibenge also said that the government is pursuing other efforts for the protection of Ugandan workers. In the pipeline is the recruitment of labour attaches to follow up on Ugandan laborers abroad, strengthen embassy offices and establish a call center in Uganda to which complaints about the welfare of Ugandan workers can be reported for action.

Remittance and Revenue

That was the only bilateral labour agreement that Uganda had. As of June, last year, there were 235 licensed private recruitment companies. Every two years, each company pays Shs2 million in license fees. Annually, Government collects $1.3 billion globally from labour export business the Middle East alone sends in $700 million.

The government collects $30 (Shs110,000) job order fees for each eternalized worker. That money is wired directly to the Uganda Revenue Authority accounts. From August 2021 to August 2022, the government collected over Shs12 billion from Job orders.

Ministry of Internal Affairs says they process 10,000 passports every month and the biggest percentage goes to individuals seeking to work in the Middle East.

According to the ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, there are over 150,000 Ugandan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. Most Ugandans are employed in the informal sector as housemaids, gardeners, cargo handlers and other jobs.

Eagle Online   has learnt that in 2021, Uganda externalized 89000 Ugandans of which 79000 went to Saudi Arabia. Of the 79000, 75000 were female. By June 2022 Uganda had externalized 50,000 nationals and a high percentage went to Saud Arabia.

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