The opposition FDD has supported the stance taken by the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions and other stakeholders in regard to the 1000 job offers for Zambians in the Gulf region.
Party Chairperson for Labour Yotam Mtayachalo says while his party commends government for coming up with such an initiative because it has accrued benefits to both the employees and the nation at large, the move to send Zambians to work as drivers and maids in the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait must be treated with a lot caution.
Mr. Mtayachalo has implored the Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko to shade more light on this matter further expressing fear that Zambians maybe mistreated while in the Diaspora especially women who are very vulnerable to all sorts of vices such as being subjected to inhuman working conditions.
“We are alive to the fact that the Arab States Region is one of the main destination regions globally employing more than 18 million migrant workers, and the number has continued to increase substantially in recent years”, he said.
Mr. Mtayachalo said the Gulf States Region is undoubtedly accounting for over $109 billion in terms of remittance outflow to many developing countries including Africa however according to the International Labour Organisation report, many of these migrant workers who are manual labourers or domestic workers who face a number of decent work challenges.
“Further the Human Rights Watchdog and the US State department have cited widespread abuses in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states which could be described as modern day slavery as there are documented and horrifying scenes of these abuses which include assault, sexual harassment and exploitation of migrant workers just to mention a few especially from Asia and Africa regions”, Mr. Mtayachalo said
He said furthermore, in May last year, Amnesty International released a report which strongly criticised Qatar and other Gulf States for abuses of migrant workers ranging from excessive working hours and continuously working without day off and this notorious working culture is very common in many Gulf States Region.
Mr. Mtayachalo said Mrs. Simukoko must therefore state whether the concerns in regard to working conditions for Zambian migrant workers destined for UAE and Kuwait will adequately be addressed in their work contracts through bilateral agreements and Memorandum of understandings clauses between Zambia and the host countries and further if such contracts are in conformity with the International Labour Standards in accordance with ILO conventions 97,98,143 and 189 for domestic and other migrant workers respectively.
He said these International set labour standards were adopted at the 3rd ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi and the Fair migration Agenda meeting in Kuwait in 2014 which include addressing poor working conditions and substantial Occupational and Health Standards issues, strengthening Labour inspection in migrant intensive sectors such as construction and domestic work, discrimination in minimum wage structures based on countries of origins, limited access to justice, weak and inefficient dispute settlement mechanisms among several others.
Mr. Mtayachalo said it is in light of these critical issues that as a responsible political party which values the welfare of Zambian workers, FDD would be very delighted if such salient issues are addressed seriously before Zambians can be allowed to take up jobs in foreign lands in order to protect them from unjust labour practices.