Kenya to lift Middle East jobs ban with tough rules

Labour secretary Phyllis Kandie. PHOTO | Francis nderitu | NMG
Labour secretary Phyllis Kandie. PHOTO | Francis nderitu | NMG 

The government has tightened laws to ensure the safety of Kenyans going to work in the Middle East as domestic workers as it moves to lift the ban that was imposed in 2014 next week.

A progress report by the Ministry of Labour on foreign employment states that hiring agencies will be required to furnish the government with quarterly returns on the persons they have enlisted within that period, their personal details and next of kin.

An inter-ministerial has already vetted and registered 29 agencies to hire and place Kenyan workers abroad.

“The agencies have duly complied with the new regulatory framework,” says the report by the Ministry of Labour.

Labour secretary Phyllis Kandie said the recruiting agencies were registered afresh after paying between Sh500,000 and Sh1.5 million as a bond to ensure that workers are not mistreated and the cash can be used to buy them tickets back home.

The government has also signed a bilateral labour agreement with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are the major markets for low skilled migrant workers.

“A draft MoU on labour with United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also been initiated. Other bilateral labour agreements have also been initiated with the Oman, Lebanon, and Jordan. The overall objective is to sign bilateral labour agreements with all key labour destination countries,” says the report dated October 18.

It adds that labour attachés have been posted to Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar to deal with the welfare of migrants, complaints and monitor implementation of agreements.

“The ministry has developed a national labour market information system which is set to be linked with the labour market information system for migrant workers and diaspora,” notes the report.

It states that pre-departure training is presently being undertaken by Youth Fund and efforts are underway to develop a curriculum and streamline the training process.

However, Central Organisation of Trade Unions secretary-general Francis Atwoli opposed the lifting of the ban.

“The decision is ill-advised as it will allow Kenyans to suffer and be killed in the two countries as was the case before the ban was introduced,” he said.