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Govt’s elation over Kuwait drivers, maids jobs saddens ActionAid

ACTIONAID Zambia says it is heartbreaking to see a government that is supposed to protect its citizenry encouraging them to apply for employment as drivers and maids in Asia (UAE and Kuwait) all in the name of creating jobs.

Acting country director Jeston Lunda stated that ActionAid was saddened by the statement that was made by government through finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe.

Lunda stated that as an organisation that advocates for decent work, especially for women, ActionAid was deeply saddened that the government seemd elated with such employment offers that do not provide protection to their citizenry.

“We strongly condemn the move and urge the government to have the interests of Zambians at heart in all the decisions that they make. We understand that employment in the country has been low, with women and youths being the most unemployed as has been demonstrated in several studies. According to the 2017 Labour Force Survey, unemployment rate was estimated at 11.4 per cent. Rural unemployment rate was higher at 13.6 per cent than urban unemployment rate at 9.8 per cent,” he stated. “Furthermore, youth unemployment rate was estimated at 24 per cent, with rural areas recording a higher rate compared to urban areas. Information from credible sources has shown gross violations of human rights, especially for women and youths from Asia where government is encouraging people to seek employment. For instance, the guardian in 2015 reported that a quarter of the world’s 53 million domestic staff have no labour rights, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, beatings and sexual assault. Additionally, the BBC reported gross violations of human rights, especially against women, in Asia including in Kuwait.”

He stated that it was heartbreaking to see a government that was supposed to protect its citizenry encouraging them to go for such employment offers all in the name of creating jobs.

Lunda stated that the government should not pride itself in securing such jobs which have been cited as being very abusive, leaving children and migrant domestic workers extremely vulnerable.

“We are not opposed to job creation, but we demand that in an effort to create jobs, government must be cautious and ensure that the integrity of all citizens is upheld,” he stated.

“In the case that government insists on delivering on their employment mandate, we emphasise social justice, which embraces wellbeing and dignity, security, and equality as well as a measure of participation in economic and social matters according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards to workers generally and migrant workers in specific.”

He urged the government to avail a clear tracking, monitoring and of course protection mechanism of Zambian citizens who might be lured into this offer.

Lunda urged citizens, especially women and youths, not to be lured into such job offers.

He urged the government to concentrate on expanding local employment through the promotion of the use of local content, diversification of the economy and investment in education.

Lunda further urged the government to put in place measures to ensure that employers in the country comply with the minimum wage requirements.

“We call upon all stakeholders, especially the trade unions, to come on board and strongly condemn this inhuman and degrading move which, if implemented, will negatively affect the lives of many ordinary Zambians with the hope of getting a ‘better’ life out there,” stated Lunda.

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