The government of Uganda through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has relaxed restrictions on externalization of labor to enable companies involved in the sourcing of external employment for migrant workers abroad are to resume business.
“This is to inform all licensed companies involved in the sourcing of external employment for Ugandan migrant workers, that following the relaxing of a number of COVID lockdown measures by Ministry of Health and resumption of air travel, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development will be lifting the ban on labour export by licensed companies in accordance with the existing mandatory Covid SOPs for all travelers,” Labour Minister, Mr Frank Tumwebaze tweeted on Tuesday.
Mr Tumwebaze further said his ministry’s PS will issue a detailed statement on the matter.
The development comes hot on the heels of External Labour Recruitment Companies’ decision to officially close business in Uganda.
Recently, through their association body of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), the companies accused some officials at the Ministry of labour of promoting black market for labour export thus pushing them out of work.
They said that that while government officially suspended labour export due to Covid-19, some unscrupulous individuals in the industry are paying some officials in the ministry to traffic people out of the country.
Labour externalization, especially among Ugandan youth who look for jobs in the Middle East, became one of the unprecedented causalities of Covid-19 when government instituted drastic measures to contain the outbreak in Uganda.
The suspension of labour exportation effective March 18 by the Ministry of Gender, and the subsequent closure of Entebbe International Airport and border points halted international travel, deepening the uncertainty in the labour externalization sector.
“You will recall that following the presidential directive of 18 March 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19 global pandemic, I suspended the externalisation of labour on 20 March 2020. In this regard, the Ministry stopped clearing Ugandans going abroad for work. With the resumption of international passenger flights in most countries and the opening of Entebbe International Airport on 1 October 2020, the Ministry continues to receive requests for clearance from recruitment companies and individual migrant workers intending to take up employment abroad,” Minister Tumwebaze told Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng in a 7 October letter.
“It is our considered view that for now , clearance of other categories of migrant workers , other than domestic workers should resume. This should be subject to fulfillment of Covid-19 SOPs put in place by government of Uganda and other authorities in the respective destination countries,” Tumwebaze added.
The containment measures adopted in the main destinations, like Saudi Arabia as well as those adopted in Uganda, restricted international travel, thus raising concerns on whether increasing employment opportunities through labour exports, is still a viable source of employment for the youth.