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Migrant workers body protest bilateral labour agreement between Uganda and Jordan

Kampala, (UG): Ugandan migrant workers under their umbrella body; Kyeeyo Association Uganda have protested the move by the government of Uganda to have migration deals with the Kingdom of Jordan.

According to the association, on 8th/11/2016, a Ugandan delegation led by the then Labour Minister, Ms Jannat Mukwaya met with her Jordan counterpart Mr Ali Ghezawi and signed a bilateral Labour Migration Agreement between Uganda and Jordan, which later saw various companies take in Ugandans to work in Jordan mainly as Domestic service workers, Cleaners and drivers.

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Mr Wandera Martin who was the Director of Labour at the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (Uganda) and part of the delegation noted that Jordan had a progressive law regime and enforcement mechanisms with a 24-hour toll-free line not until later severe abuse and torture was imposed on Ugandan migrant workers that saw no progressiveness in Jordan Labour laws, no toll-free lines.

In their protest letter dated August 28, 2023, addressed to Labour Minister Betty Amongi, the Kyeeyo Association Chairperson, Mr Olooka Kenneth says how Mr Wandera while serving in his capacity too noted that Ugandan and Jordanian Labour Recruitment Companies plus their employers would be liable for implementing the workers’ employment contract without workers themselves being involved in the process.

No wonder as many workers were being tortured and mistreated, it was again their already economically compromised recruitment companies and the very torturous employers who could speak for the employees they were torturing.

”Furthermore, a Joint Technical Committee was promised shortly which for now 6 years has never been established. Because of the National and International outcries from the concerned public and other organs due to the rampant mistreatment of Ugandan Migrant workers in Jordan from 2016 to 2019 which was treated to very late and half salary payments, nonpayment of salaries, denial of food, human trafficking, absence of sleeping facilities and shelters for domestic workers, verbal, physical and sexual abuses, confinement in houses, working in multiple homes, forceful renewal of contracts which would even lead to overstays, rampant death cases of Ugandan Migrant workers, etcetera Uganda suspended its Labour agreement with Jordan in 2019.”

The Kyeeyo Association further states that on 15th/08/2023, Honorable Ambassador Abbey Walusimbi the Senior Presidential Advisor on Diaspora Affairs met with the delegation from the Ministry of Labour in Jordan which included the Vice Minister and Secretary general of the Ministry of Labour in Jordan Honorable Farouk Al Hadad, Mr Fagez Al Jbour the Director of Domestic workers and others on among others the issue of making another Bilateral into account the factors which led to untold torture and suffering of Ugandan Migrant workers in Jordan between 2016 till date.

”On 22/8/2023, a delegation from the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development led by the Honourable Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development Ms Amongi Betty, Commissioner of Employment Services Mr Egule Lawrence, International Organization on Migration (IOM) staff, Ministry for Foreign Affairs staff and others plus representatives from the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies met with a delegation from the Ministry of Labour of Jordan, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Jordan plus those from the Recruitment Agencies Association of Jordan and discussed among others the issue of opening another Bilateral Labour Migration Agreement between Ugandan and Jordan,” the five-paged letter reads in part.

The migrant workers also claim that there was neither a representation from the workers’ side nor a representative from Kyeeyo Association Uganda called on board or engaged to represent the workers.

”The workers are main stakeholders and know their plights most plus better ways to settle their plights. This will make it harder for migrant workers to bargain for their welfare and rights, it fosters the limited and biased image of what really will be happening to workers since the left-out workers are the first-hand information givers due to the fact that they are the ones directly involved in the work. This too perpetuates more discrimination of migrant workers and disorderliness in the Labour Migration Sector,” adds the letter.

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