The government has blacklisted 26 recruitment agencies from sending Kenyan workers abroad in a bid to protect them from exploitation and violation of their rights.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore, without disclosing the names of the rogue agencies, said the move was prompted by an investigation into 700 recruitment firms, that found out there was a blatant violation of the rights of Kenyan workers abroad.
“The agencies have been flouting several policies and they have been conducting human trafficking, resulting in the torture of Kenyans,” she said in Eldoret on Sunday.
“Other agencies were being used as conduits for drug trafficking. The process is ongoing and more agencies will be barred from recruiting Kenyans for foreign jobs if they are found to be in breach of the laid down policies,” she added.
The CS blamed the torture of Kenyans abroad on the recruitment agencies flouting policies.
“When I visited Saudi Arabia recently for a bilateral meeting with the kingdom’s minister for Human Resource and Social Development, we signed several agreements for skilled labour because I discovered that domestic workers formed the bulk of Kenyans there. I am pleased because we are now left with negotiating for working hours and wages and roll out the programme. We are optimistic the agreements will also strengthen labour migration systems, policy and legal environment in Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Saudi Arabia is one of the key destinations for Kenya’s domestic workers. Data from the Ministry of Labour shows that by 2022, nearly 80,000 Kenyan domestic workers had secured jobs in the country.
However, it has not been a rosy experience for the workers in the Middle East as they face countless challenges, including inadequate response to distress cases, confiscation of travel documents, torture and abuse.
Ms Bore said Kenya has also signed bilateral labour agreements for skilled labour with Oman, Jordan and Poland and was in the process of completing the same with Australia.
“When we have agreed and received a reply on working hours and wage, we shall be sending thousands of Kenyans for skilled jobs including the medical field abroad even as we streamline the labour migration through a Bill which will be in operation in three months’ time,” she said.