Kenya signs deal for nursing, midwifery jobs in Saudi Arabia

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli speaking in Nairobi on 11th July 2023 regarding a multi-approach strategy in addressing the plight of guards in Kenya. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

For the first time Kenya and Saudi Arabia have signed a bilateral labour agreement for specialised healthcare workers.

In an announcement for job vacancies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for nurses and midwives, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection called on Kenyans to apply for the jobs.

This is the second government -to-government Labour Agreement after the one signed between Kenya and the United Kingdom. Kenyans who will qualify for the jobs will be signed into a one-year renewable contract earning a minimum salary of more than Sh176,000 per month.

"The Government of Kenya is collaborating with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in enhancing safe, regular, and productive labour migration between the two countries," said Geoffrey Kaituko, Principal Secretary for Labour and Skills Development.

He added: "This initiative has facilitated employment of thousands of Kenyans in various economic sectors in the KSA which has expressed willingness to recruit additional health care workers from Kenya.

"Kenyans seeking to apply for the jobs are required to hold a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing Sciences or Midwifery, have critical care experience, be registered and licensed members of the Nursing Council of Kenya.

Others qualifications include having minimum of two years' nursing/midwifery experience in a hospital or experience post registration with current work experience letter with no more than three months of out- of-practice period, English proficiency in writing and speaking and police good conduct certificate.

Among the listed terms of work include a 35-days paid vacation, 48 working hours per week, meals, housing, insurance, transport and medical costs paid Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health, one year paid round trip air ticket,uniforms and paid overtime in accordance with the Saudi Arabia Labour Laws.

"Interested candidates can register as job seekers and can make their applications through the National Employment Authority (NEA) online portal while details of the recruitment and migration process can be accessed from the Ministry's," said the PS.

The bilateral labour agreement signals departure from mistreatment and exploitation of Kenya migrant workers in the gulf.

Meanwhile, the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) Secretary General Francis Atwoli has called on the government to not only engage in Bilateral Labour Migration Agreement for specialized workers but also for domestic workers.

"This significant step marks a positive shift in the management of labour migration, which was previously being run by private employment agencies, and highlights the commitment to safeguarding the rights and welfare of Kenyan workers," said Atwoli.

The COTU boss urged the Ministry of Labour to take full charge of Labour Migration and consequently stop the operations of private employment agencies which he said "have been promoting modern day slavery.

" According to Atwoli, the government -to-government agreement effectively addresses concerns related to private employment agencies, which have, in most instances, been associated with unethical practices and mistreatment of Kenyan workers.

"The decision to engage directly with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signifies the government's dedication to ensuring the well-being of its citizens who seek employment opportunities abroad," he said.

COTU SG mentioned Philippines, Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Ghana and Malaysia as among the countries that have adopted Bilateral Labour Migration Agreements as opposed to the use of private employment agencies for all types of employment.

"In supporting this new approach by the Ministry of Labour, COTU (KE) emphasizes the need to widen the scope of Bilateral Labour Migration Agreement to equally cover all types of employment and not just specialized work," said Atwoli.