THE government yesterday suspended operations of private employment promotion agencies in the country over failure to adhere to labour laws and regulations.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and Disabled, Jenister Mhagama told reporters here yesterday that majority of the agencies were operating against national laws, regulations, policies and other established labour and employment standards.
She said the ministry has been receiving lots of complaints on the plight of Tanzanian domestic workers sent to various countries especially the Middle East and Asia, with most of them subjected to difficult working conditions.
“My office conducted an investigation on this matter and we have discovered that most agencies were contravening Section 9 of the Employment Promotion Services Act, 1999 and its regulations,” Ms Mhagama stated.
According to the law, she said, the agencies are required to ensure that Tanzanian workers sent abroad were properly informed on the conditions of work they will perform as well as the cultural and economic situations of the countries they are deployed to work. Flanked by Labour commissioner Hilda Kabissa, the minister said the ministry has also discovered malpractice in registration of most of the agencies, with some of them using fake documents to gain registration.
“We have discovered that most agencies presented fake documents to get registration and they evade tax,” she revealed. The ministry has also deregistered three agencies that were dealing with cross border placement for Tanzanian workers for flouting registration procedures. She named them as Sasy Company Limited, Bravo Job centre Agency and Competitive Manpower international Limited.
Ms Mhagama said the government has also banned at least 40 companies that deal with cross border placement, pending an establishment of a proper system to supervise their operations in the country. She said effective yesterday, agencies registered in the2017/18 fiscal year were given two weeks to submit to the Labour Commissioner reports of their operations, warning that failure to head the directive will lead to deregistration.
The minister also ordered the Labour Commissioner to thoroughly verify all the 136 registered agencies countrywide, including 40 cross border placement agencies, to find out whether they adhere to provisions of their registrations. In recent years, Tanzanian domestic workers in Asia and Middle East countries have been complaining of excessive working hours, unpaid salaries as well as physical and sexual abuse.
The authorities require women to migrate through the recruitment agency but have not set out minimum standards for how agencies assist workers in cases of abuse or for inspections and penalties in case of violations. While regulations in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar prohibit agencies from charging fees and costs to workers, many women said agents were charging them, anyway.