On the sending end, the Kenyan government has also attempted to introduce several labour reforms to protect Kenyans working abroad. This includes establishing the National Employment Authority which is responsible for regulating private employment agencies that are responsible for recruiting Kenyans workers for foreign employment including registration and renewal of licences, inspections, safeguarding of workers, providing pre-departure training to migrant domestic workers. However, a lot more still needs to be done to strengthen NEA’s mandate to allow it to crack down on unregulated agencies that operate outside the required standards to the disadvantage of Kenyan MDWs. The Kenyan government has also negotiated various bilateral agreements with some of the labour receiving countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However Kenyan Migrant workers based in these countries have continued to lament about poor and exploitative labour practices.
This Labour day, we stand in solidarity with Kenyan migrant workers who are driven by extreme economic precarity to immigrate for employment in countries where they are subjected to minimal labour and social protections. We call for the Kenyan Government and the labour receiving countries to put in place and implement urgent reforms to protect migrant workers including abolishing kafala, creation of channels for labour grievances, close monitoring and auditing of recruitment agencies, facilitation of repatriation and provision of reintegration support to returnees. Until Kenya provides an enabling environment for Kenyans to set up and run businesses and also create adequate employment opportunities, and until social protection is provided to those with economic insecurity, migration will remain an attractive employment option.