Government has scrapped fees charged on people seeking jobs in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
Addressing a weekly Cabinet press briefing in Kampala yesterday, the Minister of Gender, Ms Betty Amongi, said the decision was made by Cabinet on September 27 at State House Entebbe during a meeting to discuss the performance of externalisation of labour programme which was launched in 2005.
It was chaired by President Museveni.
Ms Amongi said Cabinet raised the concerns in regard to companies charging Ugandans certain fees for some requirements, including the certificate of good conduct that is obtained from police, and yet these are fully paid for by foreign recruitment companies.
“After deliberations, Cabinet decided that based on the Bilateral Labour Agreement signed with Saudi Arabia, the employers meet all the placement costs,” Ms Amongi said.
She added: “It also decided that migrant workers, destined for Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, are not supposed to pay any fees to the recruitment company in Uganda since the costs of placement are met by the employers.”
According to Ms Amongi, Cabinet also approved the lifting of the ban on registration of new labour exporting companies, which had been imposed in 2019 and approved the establishment of safe accommodation/shelter for distressed workers in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.
Cabinet directed the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development in collaboration with Ministry of Foreign Affairs to expedite the negotiations and signing of bilateral labour agreements with Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Turkey, and other countries with emphasis on sourcing skilled labour.
“The Ministry will deploy two other external security personnel in each country where Uganda has bilateral relations to help workers in case they get any problem,” Ms Amongi said.
The minister added that Cabinet exempted all migrant workers except security guards from getting a certificate of good conduct from Interpol.
The decision was taken to address inconveniences suffered by migrant workers because of delays in processing Interpol certificates.
The Employment (recruitment of Ugandan Migrant workers) Regulations, 2021, has introduced a number of measures to address some of the challenges experienced by migrant workers. These include
•Restricting ownership of recruitment companies to only Ugandan nationals, introducing pre-departure orientation training to migrant workers, and charging migrant workers unauthorised fees is a ground for revocation of a licence.
Others are the bilateral labour agreements with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided that the foreign recruitment agencies shall pay all costs of recruitment and deployment of migrant workers, the negotiated agreement with Qatar provides for the same.
•Recruitment agencies are not allowed to publish job adverts that have not been approved by the Ministry and acting to the contrary is a ground for revocation of a license,
•The value of the bank guarantee that is used to clear any claims that may arise from migrant workers against a recruitment agency has been increased from Shs50 million to Shs100 million.
•The penalties for the offences under the regulation have increased from three months to five years imprisonment or a fine not exceeding one thousand currency points or both.