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Gov't Collects UGX 7BN from Labour Export Companies in 7 Months

According to Hillary Talemwa, the head of Labour Externalization at the Ministry, the money was collected from October 19 2021 up to May 1st, 2022.
Part of the interior of the expanded Terminal building on departure. Migrant workers queue up at the check-in counter

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The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has collected 7 Billion Shillings since October from labour export companies.

According to Hillary Talemwa, the head of Labour Externalization at the Ministry, the money was collected from October 19 2021 up to May 1st, 2022.

Talemwa says the money is mainly from licenses and processing of job placements, that is provided for in the revised regulations for migrant workers. Companies pay shillings 2 million for a license while foreign recruitment agencies pay 30 US dollars for each job placement order to be processed at the gender ministry.

In August, the Ministry issued fresh regulations for the recruitment of Ugandan migrant workers to among others tighten its grip on labour export companies. 

Titled “The Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan migrant workers) Regulations 2021 Statutory Instrument 47 of 2021”, the regulation aims at among others revoking the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan migrant Workers Abroad) Regulations, 2005, Statutory Instrument 62 of 2005, upholding the dignity and rights of migrant workers by prescribing the appropriate terms and conditions of their employment and providing mechanisms for regulating activities of companies and their agents.

The new regulations indicate that all companies must apply for a license or renewal of the license by among others paying fees of Shillings 2 million up from shillings 500,000. The application must include the names and nationality of employees, directors, and shareholders, their biodata, dates of employment, their tax returns for the preceding year, and clearance from the Criminal Investigations Directorate. 

 Also, shareholders and directors of a recruitment company in Uganda must be Ugandans contrary to the previous regulations, which only required half of them to be Ugandans. The companies will also be required to have a minimum authorized capital of 50 million shillings and a bank guarantee of 100 million shillings up from 10 million and 50 million shillings respectively provided for in the 2005 regulations.  

Talemwa says the ministry has so far licensed 231 local labour companies and 439 foreign recruitment agencies. He adds that since 2019, close to 250,000 Ugandans have left the country to work abroad, especially in the Gulf countries. 

According to figures from the ministry, an average of 400 Ugandan migrant workers leave the country daily for work abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. 

30,823 Ugandan migrant workers left the country in the first four months of this year, of which 91 percent, that is 27,931, of these, went to Saudi Arabia, followed by Qatar and lastly UAE.

However, as the government collects money from labour export companies, there have been calls for better protection of migrant workers. 

Migrant workers complain about physical torture, delayed or non-payment of wages, long working hours, poor working conditions, lack of access to health services, confiscation of personal documents such as passports, forced labour, organ harvesting and sexual harassment among others.

Ronnie Mukundane, the Spokesperson of Uganda Association for External Recruitment Agencies-UAERA, says that the over 200 labour export companies continue seeking engagements with the gender ministry over the new regulations.

Mukundane says the ministry did not consult the migrant workers and labour export companies before coming up with the regulations.

"We need a labour externalization policy which should provide for consultation of key stakeholders particularly migrant workers and companies for a better governance of the business which is recovering post-COVID-19."

He however is optimistic that the regulations will weed the industry of unscrupulous companies that have been associated with human trafficking, fake job adverts, and charging intending migrant workers exorbitant fees among others.