By Primerose Omoto
The labour migration department is set on being fully involved in enhancing the safety of Kenyans going to work in the diaspora.
This is according to the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Labour and Skills Development, Shadrack Mwadime.
He said that labour migration greatly contributes to the growth and development of the country’s economy because Kenya is rich in human resources.
Kenyans working abroad contribute a lot of revenue via savings remitted back into the economy as investments.
“Kenyans working abroad inject 600 billion back into our economy. That is more than the country collects from tourism and other sectors. We need to help our jobless youths to have access to the opportunities abroad” said Mr. Mwadime.
He noted that Kenyans are increasingly seeking employment in foreign countries day by day.
“I’m afraid we are a little too late. Our citizens have been looking for jobs abroad in a disorganized system that has often led them into situations where their human rights are violated. We are pushing a bill in parliament, the Labour Migration Act.” He said.
The Act will provide a safety net for Kenyans in diaspora by ensuring a welfare fund is available to aid rescues, safe houses and increase the number of labour attaché offices abroad.
Mr. Mwadime stated that currently the government has signed MOUs with key labour destination countries which includes Germany, Austria,Bahrain, Oman,Poland, Jordan, Kuwait, Canada, Ireland among others.
“In ensuring promotion of employment opportunities for migrant workers last year we had a job order of 200 nurses which was secured in March 2023 to go and work in the ministry of health in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and this was a government to government initiative,” he said.
Mr. Mwadime added that the cabinet secretary for labour and social protection has recently secured 2500 health care professionals to be recruited for work in Saudi Arabia.
PS Mwadime also urged qualified health workers to apply for the jobs through the National Employment Agency. “The government is setting up a structure to ensure your safety while working in the diaspora. Avoid using private agencies run by mischievous individuals. The government will be watching all the workers who have used the proper channels and will do immediate interventions when an issue arises between the Kenyans and employers,” he insisted.
Exported labour is currently governed by policies under the Employment Act.
The bill for the Labour Migration Act will be more suited for challenges faced by migrant workers and help ensure their safety.
“The bill was initiated as an executive order by President William Ruto when he identified the need and urgency to have such a structure in place. The bill has been approved by the cabinet and after it passes the labour committee it will be forwarded to parliament,” he revealed.
The Labour Migration Bill will provide a secure savings program where migrant workers can save their earnings and earn retirement benefits.
“Our civil servants have opportunities for retirement benefits. It is time to introduce a similar program for migrant workers through the bill. Too often we see them retire and come home with zero savings,” he emphasized.
Deputy Government spokesperson Mwanaisha Chidzuga urged Kenyans to visit the labour migration desk at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to clarify the legitimacy of jobs offered to them before traveling abroad.
She said “We have officers trained to investigate the legitimacy of jobs offered. Get information from them before traveling. We have a 24/7 toll free hotline set up so that we can monitor the welfare of our people.”
Putting a disorganized system into structure might be the answer to the prayers of many Kenyan youths without employment and the solution to curbing irregular migration leading to human trafficking.
“With this view, we can achieve a safe, fair, regular and productive labour migration environment for all Kenyans in the diaspora,” she concluded.