By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Following the global outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Uganda issued restrictions on movement including the closure of the airport hence affecting labor externalization that had massively boosted Uganda’s annual gross domestic product (GDP).
In a bid to ease restriction on this business, on the 15th of October 2020, the Ministry of Gender, Labor & Social Development issued a statement saying that the it is reviewing the matter, adding that it has already written to the Ministry of Health seeking to be guided on its plan of the phased reopening of labour externalization.
However, the Labor recruiting companies under their umbrella of the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agency (UAERA) have broken the silence and pinned Ministry of Gender, Labor & Social Dev’t that it has slept on the job when 35,000 Ugandans have lost their jobs since the outbreak of the novel Corona virus.
According to UAERA Chairperson Mr. Baker Akantambira, “It is not in doubt that labour exporting companies are key stakeholders in the industry. Therefore, whereas the suspension of externalization of labour was inevitable given the prevailing conditions globally, the current move by the Ministry to unilaterally undertake measures directly affecting the labour companies is disturbing.”
In a statement signed by Akantambira on behalf of UAERA, “The dynamics in the market have dictated the categories the labour companies can reasonably engage in. Therefore, the phased reopening of the sector in the manner proposed is as good as extending the suspension. Moreover, in all this, neither the labour companies nor their leadership under the Association is being consulted.”
The statement adds that UAERA and its membership are open to exploring modalities of safeguarding Ugandans and having a robust and well-regulated industry stating that this can only be achieved with stakeholder engagement which Ministry has not been considering saying that continued closure is leading to the perpetuation of Human trafficking a threat to the Labour Recruitment companies and innocent Ugandans.
In addition to the above, Akantambira said over 4,000 Ugandans directly employed by the labour recruitment companies have been rendered jobless and 35,000 employment opportunities for youthful Ugandans have been lost since the Coronavirus outbreak.
The statement states, “Government is no longer realizing income from the Non-Tax Remittances estimated at UGX 2.2 Billion monthly as well as the foreign remittances estimated at USD 700M annually, Labour recruitment companies have had to close offices given the re-current operational costs [majorly rent and salaries which they have found impossible to sustain].”
“In light of the above state of affairs, the Labour Recruitment Companies have resolved that all labour externalization companies will officially close business with immediate effect,” the statement adds.
It adds, “The general public is advised that following the closure of labour companies, they should consult the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development on all aspects pertaining to the externalization of migrant workers.”
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“We appeal to the Ministry to effectively engage the Association [UAERA] and the Labour Recruitment companies in a bid to collectively find sustainable solutions that will see the industry function with each stakeholder playing its role, ” the statement adds.
It adds, “We would like to restate, however, that, in all this, UAERA as the Association for all Labour Recruitment Companies in Uganda is open to engaging with the Ministry and all other stakeholders on the subject of re-opening the industry. We remain open for dialogue.”