The government of Kenya is actively taking measures to safeguard the welfare of Kenyan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. These measures include the review of the bilateral labour agreement, the establishment of labour attaché offices, the development of a national policy on labour migration, the introduction of a Labour Migration Management Bill, pre-departure training for workers, the establishment of the Migrant Workers Welfare Fund, and the creation of a specialized social welfare fund for female migrant workers. These initiatives aim to protect the rights and well-being of Kenyan migrant workers and ensure their safe and productive employment abroad.
The government is taking steps to protect the welfare of Kenyan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, according to Labour and Social Protection CS Florence Bore. In a statement to MPs, Bore highlighted several measures that have been implemented to ensure the safety and well-being of these workers.
One of the key measures is the signing of a bilateral labour agreement (BLA) with the Saudi Kingdom in May 2017. Bore stated that the BLA is currently being reviewed to address emerging labour and employment issues. The aim of the review is to enhance the protection of migrant workers and improve their terms of service. A multi-agency technical committee, consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, and the Office of the Attorney General, has prepared amendments to the BLA, which have been submitted to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for consideration.
Additionally, the government has established labour attaché offices in Riyadh, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. These offices are responsible for sourcing employment opportunities, monitoring the implementation of BLAs, and addressing the welfare of Kenyan migrant workers, including those in distress. However, Bore noted that these three offices are insufficient to meet the demand, and more offices need to be established in cities such as Jeddah, Dammam, Tabuk, and other key labour destination countries. The government has already approved the establishment of seven more labour attaché offices, but the process has been hindered by budgetary allocation issues.
Bore also informed MPs about the development of a national policy on labour migration, in collaboration with other stakeholders. The policy aims to promote inclusive and sustainable development through safe, productive, and orderly labour migration. It was submitted to the Cabinet in February for review, and after certain amendments, it will be resubmitted within the next three weeks. The policy is expected to be approved and enacted soon.
In addition to the policy, the Labour Ministry has developed a Labour Migration Management Bill, which seeks to promote safe, ethical, and orderly recruitment, as well as safeguard the rights and welfare of migrant workers. The bill introduces clauses to make recruitment agencies more accountable and require them to periodically report on the welfare of recruited workers. The Office of the Attorney General has completed the legal drafting of the bill, and it is awaiting submission to the Cabinet for approval before being presented to Parliament for enactment.
To prepare Kenyan migrant workers for their overseas employment, a curriculum has been developed to provide them with pre-departure training. The training equips workers with prerequisite skills, information, and knowledge to navigate the challenges they may encounter while working in the Gulf. Basic language skills and cultural understanding are emphasized to facilitate their adaptation in foreign countries.
The government has also approved the establishment of the Migrant Workers Welfare Fund, which aims to provide protection, welfare, and assistance to Kenyan migrant workers. The fund will be established under an Act of Parliament, and a multi-agency technical committee has been formed to steer its establishment. Furthermore, the government is working on creating a specialized social welfare fund specifically for female Kenyan migrant workers, to provide a safety net for those in distress.
Lastly, with the support of the International Labour Organization, the ministry is working towards the establishment of a return and reintegration program. This program will enable migrant workers to participate in national development while abroad and upon their return.