In the press statement, the ministry stated that it’s reviewing the current suspension of externalization of labour. Accordingly, the ministry wrote to the Minister of Health seeking advice on the feasibility of reopening externalization of labour. Subject to this is the fulfillment of COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures put in place by the Ugandan government and authorities in the respective destination countries.
UAERA responded with a concern that many a time the MoGLSD takes sweeping decisions without engaging the respective labour companies directly or through their Association [UAERA]. It is not in doubt that labour exporting companies are key stakeholders in the industry. Therefore, whereas the suspension of externalization of labour was inevitable. Given the prevailing conditions globally, the current move by the Ministry to unilaterally undertake measures directly affecting the labour companies is disturbing.
UAERA further says that even if clearance is given by the Ministry of Health and the National Taskforce on COVID-19, it is their considered view that the reopening should be phased.
Secondly, the labour ministry says that a slight delay in reopening of externalization of domestic workers is because the Government would like to put in place additional measures. These measures are aimed at promoting and protecting the welfare and rights of Ugandan domestic workers abroad. To this end, the Ministry will engage all stakeholders including the private recruitment companies.
UAERA’s second response;
UAERA responded by saying, the Ministry can confirm from the statistics in its records. Almost 90% of labour recruitment companies are engaged in externalization of domestic workers. Therefore, the proposed phased reopening of the sector in the manner proposed is as good as extending the suspension. Moreover, in all these, neither the labour companies nor their leadership under the Association are being consulted.
UAERA says that it is, along side its membership open to exploring modalities of safeguarding Ugandans. It wants to have a robust and well regulated industry. It says this can only be achieved with stakeholder engagement.
When Newslex Point approached Jobline Consultancy for a comment, the MD. Mr Frank Mubiru said they have complied with UAERA’s directive. Mubiru further added that they have met numerous challenges including rent and salaries since the Covid-19 outbreak.
UAERA has therefore identified the impact that the continued closer is having and states them below;
- Unscrupulous individuals are exploiting the suspension to perpetuate Human trafficking. This at the end of the day will be blamed on Labour Recruitment companies.
- Government is no longer realizing income from the Non-Tax Remittances. This is estimated at UGX 2.2 Billion monthly as well as the foreign remittances estimated at USD 700M annually.
- Labour recruitment companies have had to close offices. This is so given the recurrent operational costs majorly rent and salaries which they have found impossible to sustain].
- Over 4,000 Ugandans directly employed by the labour recruitment companies have been rendered jobless.
- 35,000 employment opportunities for Ugandans have been lost in the last 7 months.
In light of the above state of affairs the Labour Recruitment Companies have resolved as follows;
- That all labour externalization companies will officially close business with immediate effect.
- That going forward, the general public is advised that following the closure of labour companies, they should consult the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development on all aspects pertaining to externalization of migrant workers.
- All foreign Partners and principals are advised to seek further information and consult the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, respective Ugandan embassies and other Government Agencies.
In conclusion therefore, UAERA appealed to the line Ministry to directly and effectively engage the Association [UAERA] and the Labour Recruitment companies in a bid to collectively find sustainable solutions that will see the industry function with each stakeholder playing its role.
UAERA restated however, that, in all this, as the Association for all Labour Recruitment Companies in Uganda, it is open to engage with the Ministry and all other stakeholders on the subject of re-opening the industry.
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