Employment agencies have been suspended from recruiting Ghanaians for domestic work in Gulf countries, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has said.
At a stakeholders’ meeting on legal migration organised by the Ghana Association of Private Employment Agencies (GHAPEA) in Accra last Tuesday, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah said the temporary ban was part of measures to curtail many reported cases of abuse faced by some Ghanaians working in those countries.
As part of measures to implement the ban, the minister said he had instructed the Labour Department not to issue further licences to employment agencies to engage in such businesses.
Mr Baffuor Awuah said many Ghanaians employed as househelps in foreign countries, especially Gulf countries, were subjected to many forms of inhumane treatment, a situation he described as bordering on national security.
The directive came on the heels of many reported cases of abuse of Ghanaian workers, other African and Asian nationals in foreign countries, particularly, the Gulf countries.
In November 2015, a video showing a young Ghanaian woman being subjected to severe sexual assault in one of the Gulf countries, went viral on the Internet.
The gruesome video showed two men raining insults on her, while they took turns to sexually abuse her.
Recently, the Ghana Mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, cautioned the youth, especially ladies, who had made plans or were thinking of travelling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states for so-called greener pastures to be extremely mindful of the unfavourable working conditions for foreign unskilled workers such as housemaids and labourers.
A statement issued by the mission said it was regrettable that some Ghanaian agents and their foreign counterparts had been misleading prospective Ghanaian workers by promising them non-existent juicy offers which turned out to be hell for most of those workers
According to the mission, it was currently overwhelmed by cases of Ghanaian domestic workers (housemaids) who had fallen victim to such unfortunate pranks and misrepresentation by those agents.
Responding to the reported cases of abuse being suffered by Ghanaians in Gulf countries, Mr Baffour-Awuah said: “As a nation, we are not happy about the way our nationals are treated outside, especially in Gulf countries. We cannot allow the situation to continue. It is about time we tried to sanitise the issue.”
He decried the activities of illegal employment agencies that facilitated the recruitment of Ghanaians to countries where they were abused.
“These agencies are not licensed and do not follow the rules. They just take innocent Ghanaians from the country to other countries and they do not care what happens to them,’’ he said.
Mr Baffuor Awuah also reiterated the commitment of the government to strengthen the capacity of the 26-member agencies of GHAPEA who had been duly licensed by the government to recruit Ghanaians to work in foreign countries.
“We need to upgrade the skills of licensed agencies to help them meet all the requirements expected of them,’’ he said.
No illegal recruitment
The Deputy Head of the Anti-Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Assistant Superintendent Alberta Ampofo, advised licensed employment agencies to abide by the labour and migration laws in the country.
She also urged them to expose any illegal employment agencies within their ranks to ensure that illegal migration and recruitment were reduced to the barest minimum.
For his part, the Chairman of GHAPEA, Alhaji Saeed Shereef, urged stakeholders to join forces with the Association to put a stop to the illegal recruitment of Ghanaians to foreign countries.
“The only way to deal with this menace, which is wrecking havoc in our dear country is for all stakeholders to come together and come up with a comprehensive plan,’’ he said.