Push for a good deal for migrant workers


PS State Department for Diaspora Affairs Roseline Njogu with Kenyan nurses recruited for work in the UK during their dispatch ceremony on August 21, 2023, at Afya house in Nairobi. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

The Ministry of Labour’s proposal to create a welfare fund for Kenyans working abroad is likely to draw mixed reactions among the citizens.

The fund, if well managed, would come in handy in cushioning Kenyans from unexpected distress abroad.

On the flip side, this adds to the financial burden of the migrant workers given that in most cases they are also required to pay for insurance coverage against accidents and sickness, among others.

A mandatory scheme might not sit well with some migrant workers, especially those whose employers offer similar benefits.

Therefore, the government should adequately involve Kenyans abroad and other stakeholders to address such concerns to avoid the initiative running into headwinds during implementation.

The ministry should also borrow best practices and experience from countries such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, which have in place such funds.

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Besides the fund, the authorities need to come up with alternative ways to address the plight of migrant workers without further burdening the taxpayers.

They should, for example, weed out rogue employment agencies that are largely to blame for the predicament of migrant workers, especially in the Middle East where some Kenyans end up in deplorable working conditions or die under controversial circumstances.

The government should also push for bilateral agreements that ensure migrant workers are safe and employers observe stated terms of employment.

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