Kimilili Member of Parliament Didmus Barasa has expressed his reservations on calls by trade unionist Francis Atwoli on the government to ban employment agencies amid a surge in cases of mistreatment of Kenyan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.
In a statement on Sunday, October 9, the outspoken legislator indicated that the measures proposed by the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General are punitive on the recruitment agencies that aid jobless Kenyans to secure jobs abroad.
He said the government should instead work with foreign embassies to deal with "select" cases of cruel employers.
"Francis Atwoli we can't close down recruitment agencies that aid our Citizens in securing employment in various parts of the world. What we need is our foreign Embassies and or labour attaché to be proactive in dealing with such selected few cruel employers," Barasa stated.
The MP claimed that the flashy COTU boss is to blame for the challenges facing Kenyan workers and urged him to shape up or ship out.
"Above all, you should also change as COTU secretary General, reduce drinking alcohol, partying with Congolese musicians and dedicate your time to advancing the welfare of workers not only in Kenya but around the world or Quit this office and pave way for another dedicated person," he added.
"You are to blame for some of these things on matters employment…..I heard you claim that you hold a position at the world labour union a position you use not to improve workers' welfare but for bragging around."
Atwoli's calls to government
Atwoli spoke on Sunday after a disturbing video of a woman alleging to be in the gulf seen breastfeeding puppies.
The lady laments that she travelled to the country in search of greener pastures after two months of giving birth and upon the realization of her employer, she was asked to feed the dogs.
Speaking to the media, Atwoli said Kenyan migrant workers in the gulf countries have been subjected to ‘indirect slavery’.
He suggested that the government should be involved in negotiating working terms for domestic workers.
"This is indirect slavery. I'm appealing to the new government to do what Kibaki did when Phyllis Kandie was Minister for labour. She banned employment agencies in Kenya.
"Let negotiations for immigrant workers to the Middle East from Kenya be government to government so people can do decent jobs. Some of these terms and conditions of services are dangerous and deny Kenyans dignity and respect. I appeal to President William Ruto to review issues related to outside employment as guided by the international labour organisation," Atwoli said in an interview with NTV.
At the same time, Atwoli pleaded with women to stay in the country with a small pay instead of travelling to the Arab nations.
"I'm appealing to young men and women, remain the way we are but keep our dignity, let us remain here as poor as we are. You better earn Ksh10,000 and remain here since jobs out there are demeaning," Atwoli pleaded.