KAMPALA – Parliament has ordered Janat Mukwaya, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development to give a detailed status report on Uganda’s labour exports.
The directive followed a concern raised by Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze who asked Parliament to prevail over the government to ban labour export companies if reports of Ugandans being abused aren’t dealt with by host countries.
Ms. Nambooze said that the government should consider setting up a public funded labour agency at the ministry gender and labour headed by a commissioner to stop profit-oriented private companies who allegedly sell citizens into slavery.
She said, “We don’t have space at our embassy in Abu Dhabi, so these girls sleep on the verandah. I request to order that our government does everything that’s possible to bring back these girls immediately. Each MP is approached by parents who have their children as labourers that these girls are mistreated. That is why we request you that the suspension for exportation of labour be put in place, the existing companies investigated and Government thinks of setting up a public labour exporting company.”
The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah said that government should have a system showing which person is taken by which company for labour and to which country saying the absence of such a system has left members of public demonising all labour export companies accusing them of facilitating the mistreatment and exploitation of Ugandans going abroad for jobs yet some of these companies are doing a good job.
“Do we have licensed companies? Do we have a system of informing our embassies where the children are taken. Do they have a system of knowing where they are, who had come so that they keep track. Can we have a system, is it so difficult to have a system? I should have access to notify my embassy in case of a problem. This over generalisation is creating confusion, I think we shouldn’t over generalise,” said Oulanyah.
He also castigated the Ministry of Gender and Labour for ignoring concerns raised about the same matter by a number of MPs and tasked the Ministry to table the report.
The Deputy Speaker directed, “So let the Minister come here with that statement and that statement will be debated because the report from the Committee of Gender and also report from Committee of Equal Opportunities were debated and there was no proper response from the person responsible for this sector which is unfortunate.”
The develoment comes at a time when another girl, Doreen Magezi is fighting for her life in hospital from injuries sustained from her trip in the Arab world.
Explaining on why many Ugandan girls fail to settle in the Arab world, Magezi said during NBS interview, “Those people have different cultures and laws. Here in Uganda, you’re briefed bits about the Arab world but when you get there, you are surprised.
However, Martin Wandera, Director of Labour and Employment Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development said that the role of government is to establish that the jobs applied for exist and accused some of the girls of doctoring mistreatment videos.
Wandera said, “Labour laws aren’t limited to only those who travel abroad. It applies to those at home as well. People will face challenges at work everywhere, the majority of people working abroad seem to be satisfied with the conditions. From our experience, we realised that some of the audios circulated by labour workers aren’t factual.”