Unlike in the past, when Ugandans were allowed to work in foreign countries without signed contracts and approval by relevant authorities, safety measures have been put in place for government to promote and protect the rights of Ugandan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.
Under the arrangements, the Ugandan government has signed a bilateral agreement with its counterpart, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the export of labour, to allow only licensed companies recruit workers.
Labour expert Lillian Keen Mugerwa, says under the new arrangements, candidates have to sign a four-party employment contract between the recruitment agencies in both Uganda, Saudi Arabia and the employer.
“The contract is originated from the receiving country and a candidate is given chance to verify the authenticity of the company abroad and this [contract], once signed, forms basis for approval by our government,” says Mugerwa, who is also the managing director of International Employment Linkages.
“The list of licensed companies by the Gender and Labour ministry is available everywhere but anyone seeking to get a job as a domestic worker needs to ensure that the company is licensed to carry out externalisation of labour and be more vigilant because there is only one exit route for those going to jobs in the middle East- through Entebbe Airport,” says Mugerwa.
He adds that the measures will eliminate cases of trafficking and monitoring of migrant workers for their safety.
Last month, government launched a labour monitoring system in partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Labour minister Janat Mukwaya said the online monitoring system would help ensure the safety of Ugandans working in Saudi Arabia by offering a platform on which they can be tracked.
She said workers will have access to mobile telephones installed with the monitoring system in order to report any mistreatment to the labour ministry directly.
Nooh Mayambala, the chief executive officer of Security Link, explained that the arrangement is in line with the implementation of the measures set by the two governments to safeguard the reputation of both countries, which was deteriorating as well as employment opportunities.
“No company will be allowed to recruit workers in Uganda without being approved by our Embassy in Riyadh. The system put in place will attract many other companies to work with Ugandan firms,” he said.
Mayambala said under the new arrangement, safeguarding the worker is a priority because all activities are online and the worker will be monitored.
Partnershiship Saudi Arabia companies
Meanwhile, three Ugandan labour export companies have signed a partnership agreement with their Saudi Arabia based firm Ingaz Recruitment Company to monitor safety and working conditions of domestic workers. The companies; International Employment Linkages, Security Link and Al Firsan Group will work jointly with Ingaz Recruitment Company to recruit and train domestic workers.
Mugerwa says the initiative is meant to strengthen mechanisms to ensure that all girls have decent work once deployed to their workplaces.
In April 2017, government lifted the ban on exportation of domestic workers and put in place measures to minimize trafficking and also protect the safety of migrant workers.
The ban was imposed the previous year following rising cases of abuse of Ugandan girls in the Middle East countries by way of sexual molestation, torture and denial of pay among others.