The Government has rejected a proposal by some MPs to impose a ban on labour export to allow investigations into the alleged mistreatment of domestic workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In a statement to Parliament yesterday on issues of externalisation of labour, state minister of gender, labour and social development Peace Mutuuzo explained that despite the challenges, the programme earns the country an estimated $600m per year in inward remittance, accounting for 50% of total remittances in Uganda.
Currently, there are 83,344 Ugandan migrant workers deployed in the Middle East, with the majority being in the UAE. Mutuuzo further explained that it has been established that with or without a ban, trafficking would still thrive.
For example, she noted that although the Government does not clear workers to go to Oman, there are over 40,000 Ugandans working there.
“The ministry is, therefore, hesitant to impose a ban as requested by some members. This is because there are still strong pull factors like relatively higher wages in the Middle East. Secondly, the migrant workers are contributing substantially to their families through construction of houses and paying school fees,” she said.
The Government in 2016 tried to ban the export of labour but later dropped the move after it failed to stop girls from going to the Middle East.
However, Mutuuzo said as a result of a number of challenges faced by the programme, such as trafficking, inability to trace and offer consular services to workers trafficked out of the country and violation of workers’ rights, especially domestic workers, the Government has put in place strong measures to promote safe labour migration and protection of the rights of workers.
Some of the measures, she said to include the setting up of an interministerial committee, chaired by the gender ministry, to coordinate the programme and ensure that workers are safe.
The Government has also put in place a four-party employment contract, which makes the recruitment companies both in Uganda and the recipient countries jointly and severally liable for any breach of a worker’s contract.
Last week, Parliament directed Mutuuzo to present a comprehensive explanation on a number of issues raised by MP Betty Nambooze regarding the externalisation of labour