Ms Betty Amongi Ongom, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development has asked the Jordan recruitment agencies to enroll in the government External Employment Management Information System (EEMIS) in order for them to recruit labour from Uganda.
Ms Amongi said this system which was rolled out by government has placed all externalization of labour processes online.
“Under the EEMIS, all recruitment agencies in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan interested in recruiting Ugandan migrant workers must be accredited by the Uganda Embassy after inspection of their office premises,” she said adding,
“Henceforth, all job orders have to be submitted through the EEMIS for vetting and approval by our Embassy in Riyadh and Ministry respectively before recruitment is done,”
The Minister made these remarks while meeting external recruitment agencies at a function test organized by the Recruitment Agencies Association (RAA) in Jordan.
“I would also like to inform you that my government passed new Regulations which require licensed Jordan recruitment agencies to partner with Ugandan recruitment agencies for purposes of recruitment and deployment of Ugandans in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” she said
“I am glad to share these with you, as this new legislation streamlines the external employment landscape by ensuring that is it safer, more humane, and dignified,”
In the area of training, Ms Amongi said all the Ugandan migrant workers must undergo a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Uganda before being deployed to Jordan and must undergo post-arrival orientation once they reach Jordan before deployment to employers.
“Under the same Regulations, Tours and Travel companies are prohibited from recruiting and deploying Ugandan migrant workers to Jordan, as this would be a conflict of interests,” she said.
She reminded the agencies of the pending issues that led to the suspension of the deployment of Ugandans to Jordan in 2019.
These she said included;
-cases of refusal and failure to pay salary on time,
-denial of adequate and appropriate food,
- denial of sleeping facilities,
-absence of shelters for domestic workers,
-denial of communication home due to inaccessibility to phone sim cards,
- denial of time off,
-denial of appropriate care during extreme weather,
- working in multiple houses,
-allegations of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse,
-allegations of confinement in houses under lock and key,
-exposure to corrosive substances without personal protective gear
-confiscation of travel documents,
-forceful renewal of contracts which leads to overstays,
-default in payment of service fees to the Ugandan recruitment agencies
“While these might seem to be unsurmountable, they have continued to taint the image of the industry,” she said
Government, she said remains particularly saddened by the continued detention of Ms. Janet Kayesu who remains in detention despite serving her sentence.
“It is a miscarriage of justice and we call upon you to prevail upon the authorities to ensure her release as well as for those who are in similar legal predicaments,” she said
“Our aim is to ensure safe and productive labor externalization – which our two governments should work together to promote,”
Since the signing of the labor agreements with the HKJ, the Joint Technical Committee, she said was never constituted, and therefore there was never any sitting to review how the implementation is progressing, much as was stipulated in the MoU.
“This limited the continuous monitoring and evaluation of the MoU, to ensure that the agreement so signed is on track, and/or the necessary corrective measures are taken in time,”
“Furthermore, following the signing of the bilateral agreement, the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies of Uganda your Recruitment Agencies Association also signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which only members of the two associations who are licensed in their respective jurisdictions would participate in the externalization of labor program,”
The renewed relationship between the Ugandan and Jordanian recruitment agencies, she said must clearly spell out such terms and conditions for their relationship, including fees payable to Ugandan companies, terms of contracts for migrant workers, salaries, and wages, among others.
“We have however noted that some Jordanian recruitment companies are dealing with unlicensed Ugandan companies yet we regularly supplied updated lists of Ugandan licensed companies. The workers who are recruited by illegal agencies are never trained and therefore fail to adjust to the work requirements,”
“A number of complaints continued to the leveled about the breaches of contracts between RAA and UAERA members. That means you owe Ugandan companies lots of money in unpaid fees. These are matters that need to be worked on for the good of our two countries,
According to Ms Amongi, all unpaid wages should be settled;
The recruitment company should follow up to ensure that migrant workers are provided with proper accommodation, especially the cold winter or hot summer, like clothing air conditioning, or heating;
The Ugandan migrant worker should receive post-arrival training, especially on occupational safety and health to avoid incidences of injury through exposure to corrosive substances, especially detergents; and
Recruitment companies and employers should provide adequate health insurance to all migrant workers in the event of sickness, injury, or death.
“As we move forward, I would like to request the Jordanian Recruiting Agencies Association to explore employment opportunities in other sectors such as agriculture, textiles, and manufacturing for Ugandan workers, and not only limit our relationship to domestic work, which as you have experienced is fraught with major challenges,” she said