Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has asked the government to ban all the employment agencies in the country that are taking Kenyans to work in the Middle East.
Atwoli said what the agencies are doing is modern day slavery following the many plight reported by Kenyans while working in the gulf.
Speaking in Mombasa, Atwoli said it was high time all the agencies taking Kenyans to work in the Middle East were shut and let foreign employment be discussed between governments and not agencies that have neither properly listed officials nor offices.
“By allowing these agencies to operate we are glaring at slavery as leaders yet our people expect us who are in charge to make a change,” said Atwoli.
He wondered why Kenya does not take labour migration laws seriously and doesn’t discuss their terms of employment with these nations that mistreat the citizens.
“Sometimes these young men and women land into the hands of unscrupulous employers who take their passports and mobile phones yet their addresses are not known by the families. Something needs to be done,” added the COTU secretary general.
He said the East African region has produced brains that can create safe employment opportunities for its people only if it utilises the resources available and stops corruption.
Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui confirmed that there are around 4 million Kenyans abroad whom some went through employment agencies while others on their own.
Chelugui said that migration is a world activity thus hard for the government to control it but promised to set up proper regulations that will stop unscrupulous agencies from sneaking out immigrants.
“Plans are underway to write bilateral labour agreements with other nationals that Kenyans are working. We have already signed one with the Qatar government which has already borrowed our labour laws and using them, we hope to do the same in Saudi Arabia,” said the CS.
He noted that labour migration is a source of wealth to the country as Kenyans working in diaspora bring to the country at least Sh350 billion.
“We must manage these processes well, streamline and strengthen laws to make sure Kenyans are safe and secure. These issues we are reading will be a thing of the past in two years’ time,” added Chelugui.
He said there is a need to create the migrant workers fund and employment fund in case there are occurrences affecting workers abroad that there is a standby fund to help them.
“We moved 1500 workers abroad using our taxpayers’ money. We are discussing with our diaspora Kenyans about 4million of them to participate by contributing to the fund so that it is a joint kitty,” he said.