Uganda suspends labour export deal with Saudi Arabia
By AFAYO SHADRACH BETHEL
Uganda has suspended a bilateral labour export agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over complaints of alleged continued mistreatment and torture of Ugandan migrant workers.
In 2017, the Ugandan government entered into a five-year labour agreement with Saudi Arabia aimed at promoting the welfare and rights of migrant workers.
However, there have been persistent complaints about the torture of Ugandan labourers, confiscation of their travel documents such as passports, denial of leave and return permits, and non-payment among others.
With the effective expiry of the agreement today December 27, Uganda through the ministry of Gender has asked Saudi Arabia to address the different grievances raised by Ugandan migrants if the agreement is to be renewed.
Last Friday, the permanent secretary of the ministry of Gender, Aggrey David Kibenge informed recruitment agencies and pre-departure orientation and training institutions that the agreement with Saudi Arabia had been suspended with immediate effect pending re-negotiations.
Government has tabled before Parliament a bill that seeks to amend the Employment Act, 2006 to provide for recruitment agencies to streamline the process of recruitment of employees for engagement abroad.
The Government bill also seeks to introduce a clause on employment of migrant workers within Uganda and regulation of jobs which may not be offered to non-citizens.
It will also require employers to put measures in place that prevent sexual harassment at the workplace.
The Employment (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2022 was tabled by the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi, on Friday, 23 December 2022.
While chairing the House sitting, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa referred the bill to Parliament’s Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development for scrutiny.
The bill comes two months after a similar Private Member’s Bill was tabled by Workers MP, Margaret Rwabushaija, which had been scheduled for second reading on the day.