External Labour Recruitment Companies, under their association of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) have resolved to officially close business in the country, citing continued closure of their business by government.
The government in June this year announced that it will not engage in job recruitments training and suspended all externalisation of labour due to the COVID-19 pandemic that affected cross border movements.
On October 15, 2020, however, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development released a press statement saying that government was reviewing this current suspension and that they had written to the Ministry of Health to advise on the feasibility of reopening externalisation of labour.
Speaking at a press conference held on Friday afternoon, Baker Akantambira, the Chairperson of UAERA said that although the Ministry of Gender is charged with the regulation of their industry, the association is concerned that the Ministry takes decisions without engaging them as key stakeholders.
“Whereas the suspension of externalisation of labour was inevitable given the prevailing conditions (globally), the current move by the Ministry yo unilaterally undertake measures directly affecting the labour companies is disturbing,” Akantabira said.
Akantambira added that even if clearance is given by the Ministry of Health and the National Taskforce on COVID-19, the reopening will be phased which is as good as extending the suspension.
Akantambira said that the continued closure of their business has also given chance to unscrupulous individuals who exploiting the current situation to carry out human trafficking which at the end is blamed on their registered Labour Recruitment Companies.
“In light of the above state of affairs, the Labour Companies have resolved as follows;
1. That all Labour externalisation companies will officially close business with immediate effect.
2. That going forward, the general public is advised that following the closure of Labour companies, they should consult the Ministry of Gender on all aspects pertaining to the externalisation of migrant workers.
3. All Foreign Partners and principals are advised to seek further information and consult the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, respective Ugandan Embassies and other Government agencies,” Akantambira added.
Akantambira, however, noted the association remains open to dialogue should the government find it fit to engage them.
The externalisation of labour was, until the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, one of the fastest-growing sectors and was providing employment opportunities to thousands of Ugandans across the Middle East and other parts of the world.
To date, there are more than 165,000 Ugandans who are gainfully employed in the Middle East through the UAERA.
According to recent statistics, the annual remittances from migrant workers in the Middle East alone into the country currently had grown to over USD 700 million and domestically, the sector has also been contributing direct employment opportunities to over 4000 Ugandans through the 200 Licensed Labour externalising companies, several pre-departure training institutions and other numerous opportunities through back and forward linkages with sectors such as hotels, Airlines and transport.