By: Zurah Nakabugo
The partnership between HAM Property and Saudi Arabia Manpower Services Company (Smasco) will take Ugandans to Saudi Arabia to work as nurses, drivers and housemaids on two-year contracts. According to the agreement, routine recruitment over an unspecified period will add up to two million Ugandans.
The partnership was launched at a function at HAM’s head offices on September 17, where Deborah Mbabazi, the resident city commissioner of Lubaga division, urged employment agencies to respect workers’ rights if they were to keep their operating licences for long.
“Such companies should give mobile phones to every worker to help them communicate back home in case of any mistreatment,” Mbabazi said.
She also advised the first batch of youths present not to engage in prostitution but, rather, save money to invest back home. The director Smasco, Saad Albadah, said they committed themselves to respect workers’ rights when they met the minister of state for Labour, Mwesigwa Rukutana, and other technical staff from his ministry who visited their company in Saudi Arabia last month.
“Among the measures we agreed on included salary payment on every 28th day of the month by either companies or agencies which contracted them,” Albadah said.
Milton Turyasiima, the principal labour officer in the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, confirmed he visited Smasco offices in Saudi Arabia and got commitments from them on treating Ugandan workers well.
“But we didn’t visit the exact companies where they are going to work since the workers had not yet been deployed,” Turyasiima said, adding that they would make follow-up visits when the workers were deployed.
They also agreed that housemaids should not stay at their places of work but report to work at 8am and be picked at 5pm to go home.
“Smasco agreed on all conditions and will cater for travel costs of Ugandans going to work with them,” the managing director of HAM Property, Hassan Mugoya, said.
“Our company is going to invest $850 (Shs 2.1m) in each youth who will work with them to cater for the air ticket, passport, Interpol letter and health insurance,” he added.
He said housemaids would receive a salary of $200 (Shs 500,000) per month, drivers $400 (Shs 1m) and nurses $350 (Shs 875,000). On top of the salary, they will get free meals, ATM cards and accommodation. Mugoya said Smasco also wanted to employ married couples. The men can work as drivers and their wives as nurses or housekeepers.