Govt starts inspection of labour export firms

Thursday November 19 2020
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Ugandan migrant workers wait for clearance at Entebbe International Airport in 2018. Labour exportation is set to resume. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Franklin Draku

The Ministry of Gender,  Labour and Social Development yesterday started inspecting external labour companies ahead of their reopening. 

The ministry said the inspection is focussing on the level of compliance and preparedness to adhere to the standard operating procedures as stipulated by  the Health ministry.

The decision comes after Mr Frank Tumwebaze, the Gender minister,  earlier tweeted that government would reopen labour exportation .

“The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development will be lifting the ban on the labour market by the licensed companies in accordance with the existing mandatory Covid-19 standard operating procedures for all travellers. The Permanent Secretary ... will issue a detailed statement on this,” Mr Tumwebaze tweeted.

Between November 10 to date, the ministry has held meetings with both recruitment agencies and other stakeholders and agreed on several issues before reopening. These included inspection of all recruitment agencies, pre-departure orientation and training institutions to assess their levels of compliance with standard operating procedures. 

Others are consultation with relevant ministries, departments and agencies.

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In a November 16 letter to the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies, the Permanent Secretary of the Gender,  Mr Aggrey Kibenge, had told members that inspection would kick off yesterday, and thereafter, a meeting of all stakeholders would be held before a final date for reopening is set.

The announcement brings hope to citizens like Ms Jane Frances Atenyi, who was scheduled to travel in April.

Ms Atenyi said she started processing her documents in December last year, and had finished training and pre-departure orientation when the lockdown was announced.

“I spent more than Shs3 million to process my travel documents and other charges and was ready to go. However, we were told we could not travel because of Covid-19. We wanted the company to give us back our money, but they promised that we shall go once the lockdown was lifted,” Ms Atenyi said.

“Last week, they communicated to us and told us to be ready so that when we are called, we shall proceed to our destinations,”  she added.

Ms Atenyi declined to name the company she is contracted to.

Uncertainties 

It is not clear if the companies still have the resources to transport their clients for external jobs due to the negative effects of the pandemic. A number of companies Daily Monitor  talked to said they would comment after the final meeting with the Gender ministry. They were, however, optimistic that once the externalisation of labour is reopened, they will be able to bounce back.

Officials from the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies could not be reached for a comment on the development.

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