Gov’t Asked to Develop Strong Bargaining Power for Migrant Workers

Rights activists want the government to devise a strong bargaining power to benefit the migrant workers and respond to rampant abuses and unfavorable working conditions.

Several Bilateral Labour Agreements – BLA that Uganda has signed with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates – UAE, and Jordan among others require domestic workers paid a monthly wage of between 700,000 – 900,000 Shillings.

In an interview on Tuesday, Kenny Olooka, the Chief Executive Officer of Kyeyo Initiative Uganda observed that over time, the cost of living compounded by global health emergencies such as Covid-19 has spiraled hence the Government should have bargaining power for Ugandan migrant workers to earn better.

Olooka explained that Ugandan domestic workers in the Middle East earn below their counterparts from Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, India, and Ethiopia who are paid between 1.5 to 2.5 million Shillings for the same job exclusive of medical insurance cover.

Sumin Aminah, a Ugandan migrant worker in Jordan explained to URN on Tuesday that African migrant workers face unfair treatment and salary discrimination from their employers compared to their counterparts from Asia which can be reversed through bargaining power.

But Joshua Wanume Kibedi, the Ambassador of Uganda to the United Arab Emirates says that the migrant workers are paid a minimum of two million, 30-day annual leave, and medical insurance among others.

Ambassador Kibedi pointed out that migrant workers who face abuses at their workplaces such as low pay, working overtime, and without medical insurance are working illegally without official records.

Flavia Kabahenda, the Chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Gender, Labour, and Social Development, says that for the Government to achieve leverage, migrant workers’ training should be strictly institutionalized before one is allowed to be externalized in the demanding job market.

Over the years, the Gender Ministry terminated Bilateral Agreements with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Afghanistan among pending fresh negations to shield workers from abuse, exploitation, and unfair working conditions.

Available statistics by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development – MGLSD indicate that more than 28,000 Uganda migrant workers are annually externalized to the Middle East to work as housemaids due to poverty back home.

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