Cotu faults State for lifting work ban in Arab states
Government defends move
Central Organisation of Trade Unions yesterday differed with the government over its planned decision to lift the ban on Kenyans travelling to Saudi Arabia and Qatar to work as domestic workers.
Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli said the decision was ill-advised, arguing that Kenyans would again be subjected to suffering and even death as was the case before the ban was introduced.
“Cotu was not consulted as well as other social partners. Labour Cabinet Secretary Phylis Kandie should understand that the ban was put in place after Kenyans suffered and many died in the Middle East,” Mr Atwoli said in a statement yesterday.
The ban was imposed in 2014 with a total of 930 recruiting agencies stopped from operating after reports of abuse.
Mr Atwoli said majority of African countries have banned their citizens from working in Gulf states and Kenya should follow suit. “Further, the Ministry of Labour has not provided an improvement report on the terms, conditions and services of workers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” said Atwoli.
However, Ms Kandie defended the decision, noting 29 recruiting agencies that will be involved in the exercise have been vetted a fresh.
She added the agencies underwent fresh registration where they paid up to Sh1.5 million as bond to ensure workers are not mistreated and the cash can be used to buy them tickets back home.
“The ministry has also signed a bilateral agreement with Qatar and Saudi Arabia and posted labour attaches to those countries in order to ensure that the welfare of domestic workers are well taken care of,” said the CS.
She said the government is using multi-agency approach to curb illegal emigration by engaging other relevant agencies in dealing with migration issues, namely, migration officials, airport authorities, police, foreign affairs among others.
Ms Kandie said a joint committee was recently in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to discuss the finer details of the agreement and implementation mechanisms.
“The ministry has developed a national labour market information system set to be linked with the labour market information system for migrant workers and diaspora,” said the CS.
She added that pre-departure training is presently being undertaken by Youth Fund and efforts are underway to develop a curriculum and streamline the training process.
Mr Atwoli complained that the inter-ministerial vetting committee that was put in place for vetting has no representation by Federation of Kenya Employers