The Uganda government has signed another labour agreement with Saudi Arabia, which for the first time allows Ugandan professionals to seek employment in the Arabian Gulf state.
A statement released by the ministry of gender, labour and social development this week said the agreement was signed on December 31, 2017.
Gender and Labour minister Janat Mukwaya, who was on official visit to that country between December 26 and New Year’s Day, signed on Uganda’s behalf while Ali Bin Nasser Al Ghafis signed for Saudi Arabia.
She had travelled to follow up on earlier labour export commitments made by the two countries over the last two years. Ugandan licensed companies can now recruit both professionals and unskilled workers for export.
“We also signed off the amended Labour Agreement on Domestic Workers earlier signed in 2015 to specifically streamline the operations of the labour externalisation sector with focus on fighting against trafficking and violation of workers’ rights,” the statement quotes Mukwaya.
“Both countries agreed to step up their labour management and regulation mandates to weed out exploiters and ensure protection of the workers’ rights.”
Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana revealed that following the new agreements signing, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Kampala was expected to resume issuing visas for workers.
“The embassy stopped issuing labour export visas when we imposed a ban on export of domestic workers on January 22, 2016 in response to reports of violation of their rights. The purpose of the ban was to stop migrant workers from getting into hostile domestic working conditions,” Bigirimana said.
“We then worked with the Saudi Arabian government and put in place measures to promote safe labour migration and rights of migrant workers. Upon satisfaction, we announced lifting of the ban on April 1, 2017 but the embassy has not been issuing visas for migrant workers. After the new agreements signing, the Saud Arabia government directed that their embassy in Uganda immediately starts issuing visas and we are optimistic this will be affected,” Bigirimana said.