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Labour export firms propose measures to curtail human trafficking

Participants at recent FOWODE camp acting a play about human trafficking (video below).

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A new faction of foreign labour recruitment agencies in Uganda has asked government to address challenges in labour export industry with harmonized training of domestic recruitment agencies.

The group, the Uganda Federation of Foreign Recruitment Agencies (UFFRA) says the measure will eliminate trafficking in persons, introduce standards and foster safety of Ugandans taken abroad for various employments.

The Federation consists of 100 agencies that recently broke off from the Uganda Association of Externalization Recruitment Agencies (UAERA).

Issa Kato, the General Manager of Cella Investments Limited, a recruitment firm in Ntinda says they would like to use their newly established secretariat at Crested Towers to coordinate common training among members of the Federation in view of consolidating labour safety abroad.

Kato, who is one of the Executives in the Federation says the secretariat will also help them share best practices responsible for safety of labours working abroad. He says the federation is drafting new guidelines for exportation of labour to introduce among others monitoring mechanisms for Ugandans employed abroad in collaboration with Ugandan embassies abroad.

The new measures suggest harmonized training curriculum for labour export agencies and Ugandans; partnership with foreign law firms to arbitrate violations of labour rights as well as foreign non-governmental organizations working against exploitation of labour and trafficking in persons among others.

Kato says the Federation has already entered a contractual agreement with a law firm in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to arbitrate labour disputes for Ugandans employed in Saudi Arabia.

He says the Federation has signed memorandums of understanding with some non-governmental organizations opposed to trafficking in persons to help Ugandan labours embroiled in disputes while abroad.

The Federation has urged Ugandans seeking job abroad to insist on licenses of the recruitment agency to avoid being trapped in rackets of trafficking in persons.

According to the Federation, trafficked labour are the most abused while working abroad in terms of failing to receive their pay, harsh working conditions and confiscated travel documents.

Data from the Federation says out of 900 labour exported over the past two years, eight have been returned due to sicknesses and other labour disputes. Those returned due to distress are rehabilitated in a Clinic in Entebbe International Airport and Mengo Hospital

Daniel Mburu, an official of Migrant Workers’s Voice, another member of the Federation in Mengo says they would like to see government build a proper rehabilitation Center for exported labour in Uganda to help those who suffer distress during their employment.

The firms also blame some of the loopholes in the industry on existing gaps in the Labour Export Regulation of 2005 which does not clearly spell out the mandates of the labour export firms.

“For instance, where does our mandates start and stop as labour firms? There are diplomatic issues which we can’t handle ourselves. Can we have proper mechanisms for monitoring our workers when we send them out?” a member of a recruitment firm in Kyebando said on condition of anonymity.

Sticking issues around export of labour has to do with mismanagement of information related to death of exported labour. Some firms have introduced periodic monitoring and controlled communications for their clients to check on their welfare.

Earlier, the Federation met the Minister of Labour, Gender and Social Development Janet Mukwaya to share these proposals. A source who attended the meeting said the Minister pledged to work with them to weed out loopholes in the industry.

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