Atwoli faults lift of ban on Saudi and Qatari domestic workers

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) on Friday 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 Friday.

The ban was imposed in 2014 with a total of 930 recruiting agencies stopped from operating after reports of abuses.

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.

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