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Government speaks out on bilateral agreements with Middle East

Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Janet Mukwaya said Uganda signed bilateral agreements with Middle East countries. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Janat Mukwaya has on July 12 briefed the public about the bilateral agreements that the Ugandan government signed with countries in the Middle East.

In her press address at the Uganda Media Centre, the Minister revealed that Uganda has signed more bilateral agreements to protect Ugandan citizens who are currently working abroad in Gulf States like Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia among others.

“I wish to remind you that Uganda has already signed two bilateral agreements on recruitment and employment of Ugandan migrant workers with the government of Jordan on 8th November 2015 and kingdom Saudi Arabia on 27th December 2017,” said Hon Mukwaya.

She added that bilateral agreements have also been signed between specific countries for externalization of labour and they follow Labour Laws of all countries in play together with those of Uganda.

“Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development started a Programme of externalization in 2005 with the purpose of reducing the unemployment burden in Uganda. This has been implemented under the employment, recruitment of Uganda Migrant Workers Abroad Regulation of 2005,” she said.

Hon Mukwaya further revealed that every 5 years, they shall be reviewing the bilateral agreements as a way of in implementing and management of the rules, laws and regulations by these companies that take people to work abroad.

She said that with the newly-signed agreement between Uganda and UAE, all recruitment shall be permitted strictly under employment companies that will be licensed by both governments as terms and conditions of work shall not differ except in alterations favourable to the migrant worker.

“The unregulated business had been given room for exploitation but with the bilateral agreement between Uganda and UAE, the business is going to be regulated,” The Minister said.

The line minister also revealed that working contracts have been put in place to deter the re-occurrence of similar circumstances from affecting Ugandan migrant workers deployed in foreign countries.

“Employment fees being charged on employees working abroad are supposed to be on the recruiters. Security, Foreign, Internal Affairs and my ministry will continue monitoring so that this is implemented. There’s also effort to stop human trafficking,” she revealed as she added.

“The signed MOU between the Uganda government and UAE offers protection to our Uganda migrant workers in a number of ways especially through strengthening cooperation by providing a legal framework for the employment of man power from Uganda to UAE.”

She said that upon arrival of the worker in the United Arab Emirates he/she will sign an employment contract that will clearly state the rights and obligations of the worker and employer, in conformity with the labour laws of the United Arab Emirates, and the contract will be duly filed with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization in the UAE to constitute the sole binding contract document for the purpose of enforcement in the United Arab Emirates.

She added that she asked recruiting companies to let employees working abroad manage their bank accounts.

According to the minister, there are 52,000 immigrants in Oman yet they don’t have a bilateral agreement with the country however, she is working on that as well.

She further urged the public most especially the job seekers to remain vigilant, seek guidance from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, and report any suspected illegal recruiter and anybody involved in any form of exploitation as they remain committed to ensuring safe, orderly, regular, dignified and productive migration for our people.

Uganda and United Arab Emirates signed a Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) with the aim of reinforcing their cooperation in adopting best labour practices.

The MoU was signed by Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, and Jannat Mukwaya, Minister of Labour and Social Development of Uganda, in Kampala.

The agreement limits the recruitment activities of registered recruitment offices in the UAE and Uganda.

Mr. Al Hamli said that the MoU reflects the keenness of the two countries to develop their partnership and cooperate in adopting the best practices in regulating the contractual work of Ugandan employees in the UAE.

Both sides agreed that the recruitment process shall be subject to specific procedures, which will require employers in the UAE to provide Ugandan employees with a detailed work offer containing a complete description of the rights and duties of both parties and the terms and conditions of work.

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