Some youths have found good jobs outside Uganda after Form 6 or College. Many though have not been so lucky. Many have been sold into slavery, had their passports withdrawn, been tortured by foreign bosses, usually failing to recover their freedom. Some have failed to return home because they are too broke to leave and the lucky ones have had their families sending them money.
To try and solve this, the government of Uganda has decided to enter agreements with different countries on how Ugandans can get jobs there. As such, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with Saudi Arabia and according to the ministry of labour many more are to come.
LinkmeUG caught up with Mr. Milton Turyasiima Assistant commission Labour in the ministry of Gender. First we asked him why a deal was signed with Saudi Arabia:
Milton: To protect the rights of Ugandan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia and make sure their welfare is good. More agreements are to be signed with U.A.E, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman.
Linkme: Any reason why you are mentioning Arab countries only?
Milton: Many Ugandan workers are heading there and some have had trouble there so we wanted to correct the situation. But we shall sign agreements with any other country Ugandans head to for work.
Linkme: So what is in this agreement?
Milton: Saudi Arabia must
- Ensure that the Ugandan workers are hired according to relevant laws.
- Over see welfare of the workers which must be according to international rules.
- Ensure that the employment contract is not violated by the employer.
- Establish a 24hr system to help Ugandan workers with any cases ranging from emergency returns back home, handling any labour violence cases, facilitate exit visas when a contract expires among others.
- Uganda is to provide qualified workers for the available jobs.
- Train Ugandan employees about Saudi law, morals and ethics.
- Recruitment agencies will transport workers to and from Saudi Arabia if the contract is terminated by the worker.
A joint technical committee will be set up in Uganda and Saudi Arabia. This committee will make sure the terms of employment are followed, conduct consultative meetings, and resolve disagreements between workers and the employers.
Linkme: give us an example of the customs of Saudi Arabia
Milton: there are a number, women don’t walk alone in Saudi Arabia, you shouldn’t be close to someone else’s wife but we shall give all these conditions to workers before they leave Uganda and they are at liberty to leave the jobs if they don’t want to.
Linkme: How will this deal help Ugandan workers?
Milton: It’s going to regulate how Ugandans get jobs in Saudi Arabia and are treated. The minimum pay, for example, will be $200. The worker will have only 8 hours of work a day and over-time will be paid. Each worker will have one day off work and the employer will provide food, medical and shelter.
Linkme: Documents have been withdrawn from workers before
Milton: The worker will retain their passport and work permit. Communication will be readily available with the Ugandan consulate in Saudi Arabia and their families back in Uganda.
Linkme: Will the Saudi government give information about employers?
Milton: Yes, the Saudi government will ensure that abusive employers don’t get to hire Ugandan workers.
Linkme: What jobs are available in Saudi Arabia?
There are many jobs, from the highest to lowest. Unfortunately, some media people don’t understand what “domestic service work” means in Saudi Arabia, a person who works for a small private business or for an individual is a domestic service worker. It doesn’t mean you are a house maid or boy. The employer will decide the kind of workers they want.
Linkme: What is the procedure for a job in Saudi Arabia?
Milton: Uganda has 40 licensed companies to take workers out of Uganda and the government monitors their operations. Youths should work with these companies to avoid losing money to fraudsters or ending up in trouble outside Uganda.
A training center is also being set up in Mukono [Ntawo youth center] to train Ugandans on how to prepare for work in these foreign countries.
Linkme: what is accommodation like?
Milton: If one is not housed by the employer, there are hostel like arrangements where migrant workers live in groups.
Linkme: what happens to Ugandans already in Saudi Arabia?
Milton: The memorandum of understanding takes care of all Ugandans in Saudi Arabia regardless of when they went there.
If you MUST work out of the country, you need to be sure you are using the right recruitment agents and that you have a job abroad before you head out. The more information you have about the country and company you are going to work for the better.
LinkmeUG brings you the list of 40 approved recruitment companies in the “News Uganda” category. Good luck.