Government through the ministry of gender, labour and social development has directed all external labor recruitment companies, to submit bank and personal details of Ugandans taken abroad through the respective companies.
A letter issued by the Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana gave the companies until June 10 to submit lists of employees working in each agency as well bank statements for the previous financial years.
Bigirmana said Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] had requested for a list of employees working in each agency and bank statements.
“The purpose of this letter therefore, is to request you to submit the information requested for through Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies [UAERA] by June 10, 2019.”
The ministry communication manager, Frank Mugabi told Nile Post that the move is part of a tracking process to ensure employers are paying their workers as agreed.
“It’s integrated with in the MIS system and used to ensure that employers are paying their workers. We want to ensure payment is in time and agreed amount,’ he said.
The ministry is aware that some labour export companies are conniving with employers abroad to persuade Ugandans into working for jobs that were never agreed to, and as well pay them money which is lesser than the agreed amount.
A Ugandan woman, Kezia Nalwanga who was taken to Oman for employment was shocked when she found the conditions yawningly different from what she had been briefed.
Nalwanga was told she would earn Shs700,000 as a maid at a rich man’s home only to be paid Shs600,000 to work as a maid for a whole community.
She refused to work and was beaten terribly leading to her death early this year.
Last year, Doreen Karungi working in Oman, was found dead in her small room in Ibra town about 170km from the capital, Muscat. It is reported that Karungi had been locked in a room and tortured after she chose to resign from her job citing different expectations.
It is a common practice for Omani and Ugandan human trafficking agents to lock up girls in their offices in the different towns of the Arab country, especially when the victims decide to abandon work to elude torture from their bosses.
Ugandan companies refuse directive
The players in the labour export industry have questioned the move. Critics have questioned government’s motives in asking for bank statements.
Many of them who spoke to The Nile Post on condition of anonymity said export of labour was regulated through well established laws like the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant workers abroad Regulations Statutory Instrument number 62 of 2005 which does not mention anywhere that the firms have to submit their bank statements.
One of them said such a move would run counter to the Bank of Uganda Final Consumer Protection Guidelines 2011under guideline 7(3)(a) which provides for safeguarding consumer information.
They said the move would tantamount to invasion of privacy by government.
“The Constitution of Republic of Uganda Article 27 explicitly recognises the right to privacy and calls for its protection. Privacy is a fundamental human right enshrined in numerous international human rights instruments such as Article 12 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.It is central to the protection of human dignity and forms the basis of any democratic society. It also supports and reinforces other rights such as freedom of expression, information and association,” one of them said.
However, the ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development cited “vicious abuse of procedures” and “collusion in the ministry” following reports that some officials connive with external labour exporters to illegally clear underage girls to work as maids in Arab countries.