The minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi has warned labour export companies against charging recruitment fees from people destined to work in countries with which Uganda has bilateral labour agreements such as Saudi Arabia.
Speaking to journalists, Amongi said recruitment companies that continue to charge these fees are likely to lose their licenses.
“Cabinet strongly emphasised the strategic goal of creating more jobs internally and if Ugandans must externalise labour, there is a need to export skilled labours rather than unskilled ones,”she said.
Under the externalisation of labour programme, it was noted that, to date, 216 companies are licensed to source and formally place Ugandans to work abroad.
With regards to fees payable by migrant workers, the cabinet raised concerns in regards to companies charging Ugandans for jobs that are fully paid for by foreign recruitment companies.
“Based on the bilateral labour agreement signed with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the employers in Saudi Arabia meet all the placement costs. In other words, Ugandan migrant workers destined for Saudi Arabia are not supposed to pay any fees,” Amongi said.
She revealed that cabinet had approved new regulations to improve the labour export aimed at streamlining labour externalisation in the country.
These regulations include: revision of the law, restricting ownership of recruiting companies to only Ugandan nationals and verification and vetting of company directors by the joint intelligence committee, issuing of licenses with the ‘no objection’ by the minister of Gender Labour and Social Development upon satisfaction that the company has no previously committed illegalities.
Other regulations include: developing an online system for management for external employment including license application and issuance, community engagements with district participation in externalisation of labour programme and instituting an external employment help desk at Entebbe international Airport to verify clearances of migrant workers.
Cabinet also approved strict sanctions against companies that breach the labour laws.
Government has so far suspended over 24 labour firms for not complying with the laws and has deployed more labour attaches at various embassies in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.