Following pressure from the Kenyan government and trade unions, Qatar has shut down 12 Kenyan employment agencies in order to ensure better treatment of migrant workers in Gulf states.
This information was revealed during a meeting in Doha on Sunday between Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli and Qatar’s labor minister, Ali bin Samikh Al Marri.
Starch, Anand, Sunrise, Dubai, Frame, Al Adam, Absher, Al Methaq, Resala, Altaaon, and Althabat were among the affected recruitment offices. These agencies are no longer allowed to engage in labor recruitment or contract negotiations with employers.
Officials in Qatar stated the agencies had broken the law and that the operation was part of ongoing measures to protect the rights of domestic workers’ employers.
Mr Atwoli also expressed concern about Kenyan workers’ working conditions in Qatar, urging Qatari authorities to preserve the workers’ lives and well-being.
Mr Al Marri pledged to keep Kenyans safe, particularly domestic workers, by announcing that Qatar was shutting down employment organizations that were used to smuggle Kenyans into the Middle East.
“The minister noted that they are currently in the process of cancelling the operations of Kenyan-owned employment agencies. At least 12 licenses have been cancelled so far,” Mr Atwoli said.
The Kenyan government should develop government-to-government contacts with Qatar, according to Cotu. This will ensure that discussions on the terms and conditions of Kenyan workers in Qatar are overseen by the government rather than agencies.
Qatar has extended the probation term for domestic workers from three to nine months and established maximum pricing for the recruitment of domestic workers as part of its efforts to streamline the labor market in the Gulf state.
In November 2021, the National Assembly Committee on Labour and Social Welfare revealed 89 Kenyan domestic workers died in Saudi Arabia between 2019 and 2021.
Committee chairman and Mwea MP, Wachira Kabinga, said the victims died in road accidents while others died of heart attacks among other illnesses.
“Due to the high temperatures most of them died from heart attacks,” he said.
On the other hand, MP Kabinga said, 200 domestic workers were being held in deportation camps after running away from their employers’ homes due to disagreements.
“Five are hospitalized. One of them has been held in the hospital for over six years,” he added, as he urged the government to deal with the mistreatment of its citizens working in the Middle East.
He also stated that 90 per cent of Kenyan domestic workers have been sexually harassed.
“Just like the Philippines, Kenya should work on clear policies to come up with solutions between Kenyan domestic workers and their employers in Saudi Arabia,” he said.