Parliament has given Workers Representative Arinaitwe Rwakajara leave to table the Externalization of Labour Bill, 2019.
Hon. Rwakajara moved a motion seeking leave to introduce the Bill. The Bill seeks to address the gap left in the Employment Act, 2006 that does not provide for the protection and welfare of workers outside Uganda.
In addition, the government ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990) and also signed treaties and a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Under the Convention, Uganda is obliged to provide safe and fair system for migration and also ensure the rights and welfare of migrant workers and their families.
However, Hon. Rwakajara says that migrants are facing several challenges despite the National Employment Policy 2011 in which government committed to set up institutional and legislative reforms to ensure decent employment opportunities for all workers.
He adds that the Employment Act, 2006 and the existing labour policies do not establish mechanisms for the protection of migrant workers and do not cover key issues in the externalization of labour.
Mr. Rwakajara says that the country urgently needs a law to regulate labour export which includes the recruitment exercise and protection mechanisms for the workers. He adds that there are close to 100,000 Ugandan migrant who workers remit about US $ 224 million Dollars annually.
Ngora county MP, David Abala seconded the motion, arguing that the Ministry of Gender has highlighted the loopholes in existing laws and policies in addressing issues of migrant workers which include ill-treatment, sexual harassment and slavery, especially domestic workers in Oman.
The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga commended Rwakajara and MPs for identifying gaps in the existing laws and also bringing the draft Bill.
However, after Parliament granted Rwakajara leave to bring the Bill, the Minister of State for Youth and Children, Florence Nakiwala disagreed that the National Employment Act, 2006 does not provide for Externalization of Labour.
She noted that the Bill could also result in uncoordinated legislation. Kadaga, however, overruled her on grounds that government has not yet domesticated the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
The government has in the past tried to curb human trafficking and also regulate recruitment of migrant workers through the Employment Regulations of 2011. Some of the interventions have included signing bilateral agreements with countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia.