Officials from the Labour ministry and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have agreed to work closely to safeguard the rights of migrant workers that Uganda sends to the Middle East and other regions.
The meeting held in Kampala last Friday designated IOM to offer consular services to Ugandan migrant workers in countries where Uganda does not have a diplomatic representation.
The aim of the arrangement is to ensure that the labour rights of Ugandans are respected.
In attendance were the United Nations migration regional director for East and Horn of Africa, Mr Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Uganda chief of mission Sanusi Tejan Savage, while the Ugandan delegation was led by minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Frank Tumwebaze. Also on the team were Mr Aggrey David Kibenge, the permanent secretary of the ministry and Mr Martin Wandera, the director of Labour.
Mr Tumwebaze said a number of Ugandans have made distress calls while working as domestic workers abroad, adding that now is the time intervene.
“...You know we work collaboratively with IOM in ensuring the safety, protection and welfare of our workers who go and work abroad. We agreed to ensure that right from the selection process to transit and the final destination, our workers are protected from abuse, exploitation and that we are able to respond to distress calls in time and where need be evacuate the affected persons immediately,” Mr Tumwebaze said.
He added: “We need to understand what triggers the violations. Is it the limited skills of migrant workers, the culture, or something else? The findings of this study will be key in guiding us on how to influence the Gulf governments to take action”.
He also said they asked the IOM in East and Horn of Africa to closely coordinate the activities of labour migration.
Sources that attended the meeting but did not want to speak on record said Mr Abdiker agreed to the idea of carrying out a study on the condition of migrant workers in the Middle East.
He reportedly promised to start with Saudi Arabia as a case study and later roll it out to other countries.
He also reportedly promised to strengthen the regional ministerial forum on harmonisation of labour migration policies in the East and Horn of Africa region “to have a collective bargaining voice for the East and Horn of Africa countries.”