KAMPALA– The outspoken Mukono Municipality Member of Parliament, Betty Nambooze has on Monday, July 8, lashed out at labour exporting companies accusing them of carrying out modern-day slavery in guise of labour export.
While appearing on a local television station this morning, the legislator took jabs at Marphie International Recruitment Agency a labour exporting company which operates in Kigowa, Ntinda – a Kampala suburb.
The employment agency is accused of having recruited 23 girls who were allegedly flown back from Jordan after having been sold to the highest bidders in dollars ‘into modern day slavery.’
According to Hon Nambooze, she learnt of the dilemma from Doreen Magezi, one of the victims from Namanve in Mukono who contacted the vocal legislator, seeking her intervention to return home.
She says there is a very thin layer between labour export and modern-day slavery.
“First of all you do it for profit… Ruth what do you trade in?” Hon Nambooze quizzed the agency adding, “Don’t call it labour. You are trading people.”
She added that the government has given away Ugandans and in such a situation there is need to get a public-funded labour agency that goes out to look for jobs.
“As a country, we have a youthful nation with very high unemployment rates. The government is quickly fixing this and these private companies have hijacked this process, they take these youth to bonded labour,” Nambooze said.
Ms. Ruth Karungi the Director of Marphie International Recruitment Agency a company at the center of the latest case of mistreatment of a Ugandan ‘exported’ to the Middle East refuted Ms. Nambooze’s claims saying that her agency is a certified labour organization that is registered by the ministry of labour.
Asked about Ms. Doreen who the legislator fronts as one of the victims, Ms. Karungi said Ms. Doreen went through all the procedures before she departed for Jordan.
“Before she (Doreen) travelled, we took her through the right procedure; I even have the contract she signed. Those girls leave Uganda when they already know their employers” she noted.
She noted that she has taken over 100 girls to work and for all those girls who want to come back home, she helps them using the same procedure.
Ms. Karungi said told lies as she was never tortured and they never asked her to return the 3000 dollars that were injected into her travel to Jordan.
According to Ms. Nambooze, labour exporting agencies are dealing with state-sponsored enslaving of its people and that they are highly connected individuals so it is as if they are above the law.
However, Ms. Karungi said they are doing legal work by helping those girls get jobs and earn money.
“These girls earn money. We should thank President Museveni for signing bilateral agreements that enable these youth to go abroad and earn money. In Jordan, they earn UGX 900,000,” she said.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga recently proposed that labour exportation should be conducted by government as opposed to private companies if Uganda is to mitigate the rising cases of human trafficking.
Kadaga noted that it is unfortunate that most Ugandans who have been victims slavery in foreign countries are not registered at Uganda’s foreign missions, and that this has made it hard for government to rescue victims.
She recounted a recent experience in Dubai where she asked Ugandans, to register with the Uganda Embassy in Dubai but all shied away.
“They don’t want to associate with the government. So how do I know how to rescue you if you don’t want to register with the Ugandan mission? You can’t even budget for them. But we are trying to allocate some money to that cause” Kadaga said.
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 Affairs 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.
He also highlighted the role of the agreement in regulating private recruitment offices in both countries, to ensure transparency and compliance.
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.