Kenya is renegotiating Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLAs) with foreign nations where Kenyans work abroad, Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui has said.
Chelugui added that the BLAs were meant to address the welfare of Kenyan workers working abroad and minimize cases of abuse as has been witnessed by those working in the Middle Eastern countries.
Speaking on Thursday in Nanyuki town when he launched the training curriculum on ranching and conservancies, the CS said that the country was keen on renegotiating the BLAs with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, The United Arab Emirates, Poland, Britain and the United States of America.
“We have about seven BLAs which we are reviewing due to the emerging labour challenges and issues we are facing now,” the CS said.
Chelugui further revealed that the country has developed a pre-departure training for the unskilled labour force seeking to work abroad.
“This training is meant to empower and enable the workers by taking them through on the job expectations, religion and culture of the nations they are going to work so that they are able to blend well in the foreign society,” he said.
The CS further said that the country was increasing the number of labour attachés in countries with a high number of Kenyan workers in order to be able to handle labour related matters effectively.
“We only have three attachés in our foreign missions and with countries like Saudi Arabia which is the size of East and Central Africa will require more than seven attachés because of the number of Kenyans working in that country that is over 100,000 served by one person,” Chelugui said.
The CS further revealed that the government has set up a Migrant Workers Welfare Fund which will be used to assist workers who might be in distress abroad.
He added that the government would use the fund to build safe homes in foreign countries to house workers who may have been abused, sick or those awaiting deportation.
“These safe homes will be manned by Kenyans in order to ensure that our citizens are not abused, the government takes very seriously the lives and welfare of Kenyans both locally and abroad,” he said.
The CS noted that there were huge opportunities abroad for Kenyan workers and that’s why the government was keen on ensuring that their welfare is taken care of in dignity.
By Martin Munyi