By Hannah Marion Namukasa
The Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has tasked the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development, to work with the line ministry to investigate companies involved in the export of labour to the Middle East.
This follows the rampant and unclear deaths of many casual labourers, especially girls working in the Middle East.
The Woman MP for Kayunga District, Hon. Idah Nantaba, presented a petition to Parliament on 09 November 2022 concerning the repatriation of the remains of Lydia Ayila, her constituent who died in Saudi Arabia.
Nantaba said that the family of the deceased was distressed because they were in the dark about the cause of death of their loved one and that they would not have the opportunity to bury her back home.
Speaker Among then directed the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to compel the company which hired the late Ayila to foot the repatriation expenses.
Nantaba, however, noted that the ministry had only managed to pay US$1,000 out of the US$3,400 repatriation costs and that the authorities in Saudi Arabia would proceed with burying the deceased if the repatriation costs were not paid by Thursday, 23 November 2022.
When Nantaba, accompanied by the late Ayila’s mother, raised the matter of the US$2,400 balance in a meeting with the Speaker before commencement of the plenary, she [Speaker] promptly mobilised and the money was remitted to save the deceased from being interred in Saudi Arabia.
During the plenary, the Speaker proposed that the ministry ensures that the companies involved in export of human labour meet such costs whenever the cases arise.
“I gather that the companies involved in this trade must pay Shs100 million for a license; some of this money should be used to meet such costs,” Among noted.
The Speaker asked that an in-depth analysis is conducted of the companies that export labour to the Middle East into their operations and ownership and directed the committee to report back to Parliament.
The Busiro County East MP, Hon. Medard Sseggona, added that government must have a clear policy and bilateral relations with the countries it resolves to export labour to mitigate these issues.
“This incident has come out because it has been brought to you. However, we deal with these cases almost on a daily basis especially when it comes to repatriation of our dead children,” he said.
Sseggona said that labour relations world over are the responsibility of the state and therefore, government must be fully involved in anything to do with exportation of labour.
He expressed his unwavering backing for the Speaker’s ruling on the matter and asked for the halting of transfer of labour to a country with which the government has no bilateral relations.