By Andrew Irumba
The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Frank K Tumwebaze, has directed external labour recruitment companies to rid their sector of unethical conduct and ensure licensing conditions are strictly adhered to.
Minister Tumwebaze revealed this during a meeting with the executive members of the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), at his office on Tuesday.
The Minister said he had received reports of some companies misusing their licenses to falsify information so as to accumulate money from potential recruits.
“You should desist from promising greener pastures that are nonexistent. Disclosure of information should also be done in full regarding the state of jobs with details like payment, conditions of work etc, to enable prospective employees to make informed decisions on whether to or not take up available opportunities,” Hon. Tumwebaze noted.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister of State for Labour, Hon. Rukutana Mwesigwa, the Director for Labour, Martin Wandera and the Executive Director UAERA, Enid Nambuya, among others.
Tumwebaze cautioned that in order to curb the non-response to distress calls from placed workers, the recruitment companies will henceforth be held responsible for the entire process from departure to return of any Ugandan they take abroad. “We shall be requiring of them filed returns from time to time to enable Government to offer Consular support,” he emphasized.
He said the licensing framework won’t have any reprieve for companies that cut off communication with workers in times of distress.
The chairperson UAERA, Mr Baker Akantambira, welcomed the Minister’s resolute efforts and expressed optimism that it would streamline the sector.
He said that “Some of our challenges include the low commission and high costs of deployment, inadequate consular services, limited bilateral agreements with countries in the destination areas, inadequate training for the recruits before deployment and public perception about the companies which they deem to be engaging in human trafficking.”
He appealed to government to sign bilateral agreements with more countries in the Middle East and also open consular services in countries of destination so that emerging issues are responded to in a timelier manner.
Akantambira advised that the pre-departure training be enhanced to acclimatize the recruits with what to expect on arrival at their destinations.
He called for a special police unit for the externalization of labour to help strengthen case handling as currently most cases are lost along the way.
He also implored government, specifically the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to review the anti-human trafficking laws so as to ease the prosecution of the vice perpetrators and also incorporate stringent penalties to deter other offenders.
At the end of the meeting, Minister Tumwebaze promised that more interactions would be held with other stakeholders to ensure the safety of Ugandans who go to work abroad.