SECTIONS

Florence Bore: CS nominee calls for welfare fund, health cover for migrant workers

Labour and Social Welfare Cabinet nominee Florence Bore before the Appointments vetting committee. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

Labour and Social Welfare Cabinet nominee Florence Bore on Saturday proposed measures to cure the mistreatment migrant workers in the Gulf states, where this year alone 69 Kenyans have died.

When appearing before the House Committee on Appointments where she was hard-pressed to give solutions, Bore proposed the establishment of a safe house.

While regretting the deaths, she promised to ensure the creation of a welfare fund so that any time migrant workers have an issue, they get ready help.

Bore said her first task in office would be to oversee the establishment of a safe house in Saudi Arabia where Kenyan workers in distress can be housed before they are brought back or prepared for other forms of employment. Towards this end, she said, Parliament had already approved a Sh60 million budget.

“The challenge as a ministry is that the labour attaches in the gulf area are few. In Saudi, we only have one attaché that handles more than 210,000 Kenyans spread across the country. Part of that money that has been approved will be used to employ 10 labour attachés in Saudi Arabia,” said Bore.

“They also need a health insurance cover because it seems they suffer a lot with health issues and by the time they get here, they can’t recover,” she added.

She said the ministerial bloc formed by the East African countries can collectively address the issue. She said there was need to open other labour markets rather than Saudi Arabia alone by signing other bilateral agreements.

Bore, who said she was worth Sh200 million, plans to streamline the National Employment Authority (NEA) that registers recruitment agencies.

Tea picking machines

“There is need for pre-departure training for workers so that they are acquainted with the language, household activities, culture of Saudi’s and much more to help them settle in employment,” added Bore. The nominee also touched on the controversial mechanisation of tea picking– a matter that has caused workers unrest in parts of the country.

“Stakeholders should sit down and discuss. The last agreement between the Federation of Kenyan Employers and the government was that 40 per cent mechanisation was to be allowed and 60 per cent reserved for employment of Kenyans. My position would be that the status quo remains and to have the stakeholders discuss. This is our country and we want people to have jobs. We also want mechanisation to a certain level,” she said. To deal with the unemployed but skilled youth, she said her ministry would upscale industrial attachments to ensure they get experience through the National Industrial Training Authority.

“There is also the system of recognition of prior learning where you recognize a skill that someone has certified by the authority and they can be helped to train others. Will also be talking to other ministries to take up unemployed youth and give them internships,” said Bore. On social welfare funds for the elderly, she promised a review and sourcing of an additional Sh10 billion towards it.

 Separately, Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs CS nominee Salim Mvurya said he was concerned that Kenyans were not benefitting from gold deposits in the country due to a lack of skills.

Mvurya also said he has a net worth of Sh120 million. “Right now Kenyans are not benefiting from this gold, because one, that gold has not been quantified, and secondly, that gold has not been checked in terms of quality. We also have miners who don’t have skills,” he said.

To streamline the sector, he said if approved, he would undertake a professional geological survey of all minerals in Kenya and make further efforts to make sure miners are trained and licensed. The process to ensure gold deposits economically benefit Kenyans, he said, has already been initiated.

“The process has started. It has to be concluded so that we can know where we can do the groundwork to confirm the quantities and the ministry will need the support of this House,” added the former governor.

When it was Secretary to the Cabinet nominee Mercy Wanjau’s turn, she revealed she was worth Sh475 million accrued over the years in her service in the public and private sector.

She, however, found herself in the spot after she failed to answer a question by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah who wanted her to state which county Teso South belongs.

“As you take minutes in the Cabinet, would you know where Teso South is?” Ichung’wah posed. To which she responded: “I may not know which county Teso South is but one thing I can assure you, I have been up and down.” The nominee promised to remain true to the Constitution and to the values and principles of public service, if approved. Wanjau was the last of 21 nominees to appear before the vetting committee. The committee proceeds to write a report.