Africa-Press – Kenya. The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General, Francis Atwoli, has demanded a ban on Kenyans being sent to work in Saudi Arabia by recruitment agencies.
In a video seen by Kenyans.co.ke on Tuesday, November 23, Atwoli told the press that many Kenyans working abroad, especially in Saudi Arabia, were undergoing a hardship to put food on the table.
Atwoli noted that bodies arrive from Middle East aboard the country’s planes landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) every morning.
The COTU boss further noted that it was better for a country to remain poor than subject its citizens to hardships and torture.
“The issue of people being sent to work outside, that is indirect slavery. You can see the government claim that we have received some money from abroad, but under what circumstances?
“Every morning when at JKIA, there are coffins of Kenyans who have passed away, most coming from Middle East planes. They are young. We object strongly. It is better a country stays poor but protects the lives of its citizens. All countries worldwide prioritise the safety of their people,” he explained.
Atwoli further argued that all labour agencies exporting Kenyan workforce should be disbanded and let the governments deal with each other directly.
He noted that people were free to work where they like but governments should collaborate to ensure that safety of their citizens is guaranteed.
He also pointed out that other governments were prioritising their citizens and Kenya should do the same.
“If people want to work anywhere, let Kenyan government and that country’s government get into an agreement. Let us remove the middle people known as labour agencies.
“They are just perpetuating slavery and we cannot accept. They should also be paid well unlike the stories we hear from those coming out of Middle East,” he added.
After cases of Kenyan workers being mistreated in Saudi Arabia became rampant over the recent months, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s-led government resolved to send officers from the Ministry of Labour to Saudi to address the ever-rising cases of mistreatment.
Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary, Simon Chelugui, in mid-October stated the officials from both countries have arranged a meeting to address the thorny issue.
Atwoli had earlier accused the Ministry of failing to protect Kenyans employed in Saudi Arabia.
He castigated the government for remaining silent yet workers were being mishandled in Saudi Arabia.