𝐒𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟐, 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟑
A House Committee has appealed on all stakeholders that deal with the placement of migrant workers abroad to work together towards improving the welfare of Kenyan migrant workers.
Noting that there is sustained goodwill by the government on the matter, the Committee on Diaspora Affairs and Migrant workers called on the Ministry of Labour and Social protection to expedite the on-going establishment of Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLAs).
The lawmakers were speaking during a roundtable engagement with Labour Ministry Officials led by the Principal Secretary, Labour and Skills Development, Mr. Geoffrey Kaituko,Representatives of the Association of Skilled Migrant Agencies of Kenya (ASMAK), and the Kenya Association of Private Employment Agencies (KAPEA).
Committee Members led by the Chairperson, Hon. Lydia Haika Mizighi ( Taita Taveta) want the Ministry to involve all stakeholders including recruitment agencies not just in the development of the BLAs but also in the development of the proposed Labour Migration Management Bill, which is currently under cabinet consideration.
“Private Recruitment Agencies are doing a critical job in helping address our unemployment challenges. I therefore want to urge the Ministry to consider their input during the development of BLAs”, the Chair urged.
PS Kaituko in response acknowledged that in the past there had been hostility between the ministry officials and the recruitment agencies. He disclosed to the Members that since the Committee initiated the round table engagements, a number of pending issues including the delay in renewal of licenses had been resolved.
“Hon. Members, my undertaking is that we shall engage the Private Recruitment Agencies through their legitimate office holders. We really want to work with all agencies to ensure that we connect them with job placements abroad”, the PS undertook.
At the same time, the Committee has called on all stakeholders to scale up the placement of more skilled professionals as opposed to their unskilled counterparts, to boost the professional brand name of Kenya.
The Legislators who noted that the reputation of Kenya as a market for migrant workers has been dented by run-away migratory workers, the Members emphasized that the government stands a better chance when negotiating for improved welfare of migrant workers if the workers involved are from skilled and professional cadres.
The Members called on the Ministry of Labour and recruitment agencies alike to establish a monitoring system and to extend psychosocial support to those distressed while working abroad as well as returnees to ensure they are re-integrated into the society once their contracts end or are terminated.
Drawing analogies from how the welfare system for migrant workers run by the government of Philippines’, the lawmakers urged the labour ministry to consider deploying more attachés to improve popular labour markets for Kenya to frequently check on the welfare of workers.
Earlier on, representatives from the recruitment agencies had decried loss of placement opportunities for Kenyan migrant workers due to perennial runaway cases.
“The government needs to criminalize the act of run-away. It has caused us a lot of harm among our traditional Labour markets. Qatar has already stopped issuing domestic workers’ visas due to rampant cases of run-away workers”, held Mr. Francis Wahome from ASMAK.
With regards to monitoring the operations of recruiting agencies, PS Kaituko and the Members stressed the need for all recruitment agencies to operate within the existing regulatory framework.