Indigenous external employment agencies in Uganda have expressed optimism following the introduction of the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2022.
The bill seeks to regulate labor recruitment companies in Uganda and protect migrant workers, casual laborers against physical violence meted against them by their employers, sometimes leading to death.
Hon. Agnes Kunihira, the workers representative in Parliament was granted leave on May 11th to introduce a private member’s bill titled Employment (Amendment) Bill 2022, which when actualized will work to extinguish gaps in the regulation of labor recruitment agencies, for example by reducing trafficking.
These amendments are in tandem with Article 40 of the 1995 Ugandan constitution which provide for the economic rights of workers, including the right to work under safe conditions, right to form trade unions, among others.
The gaps in the regulation of employment agencies according to her have greatly contributed to misery and suffering of these workers abroad because of exploitation from their bosses, and sometimes leading to suicide.
“Migrant workers are deprived of their wage, they work under unhealthy conditions and suffer sexual exploitation. Therefore, amending the current law will guarantee their labor rights and protection under the constitution and internal labor laws,” Hon. Kunihira said.
Her efforts to have this law amended come at a time when Uganda is very busy preparing to repatriate about 500 migrant workers stranded in the Arabian peninsula, majorly those tortured by their employers, a plan revealed by Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Hon. Betty Amongi.
Officials at Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) say the law will reduce trafficking and also prolong the period Ugandans spend while providing labor in Arab countries.
The Vice Chairperson for UAERA, hajj Ibrahim Bogere appealed to the formulators of this bill to include stringent clauses and articles in addition to strict conditions on agencies which are too reluctant to follow up Ugandans when they fly them abroad.
He clarified that such laxity by some companies in implementing a comprehensive follow up process endanger lives of many Ugandans abroad, hence leading them to serious challenges, for which these entities are not concerned at all.
“When a new law is instituted that doesn’t frustrate us, but rather compels government to take responsibility, and in good faith, such a law should be embraced, but it is wrong to drastically reduce the powers of these companies, or putting conditions which frustrate their operations,” advised Hajj. Bogere.
Efforts to protect rights of migrant workers by Parliament is a response mechanism to various appeals by several families through their representatives to the legislative body to repatriate their relatives, whose lives are in serious danger after mistreatment by Arabs.
The post External Labor agencies express optimism after initiation of Employment (Amendment) Bill 2022 appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.