May Day Call for Providing Decent Work for Migrants

The internationally renowned migrant rights organizations and trade union bodies have called for providing decent work for the migrant workers and upholding the Employer Pays Model in the manpower recruitment process.

They made the call in a joint statement issued on Wednesday by the Migrant Forum in Asia, the Cross-regional Center for Refugees and Migrants, the South Asian Regional Trade Union Council, the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations in Pacific Region, and the American Solidarity Center.

‘On the occasion of May Day 2020, we reiterate the calls for decent work and fair recruitment of the 2030 SDGs, the Global Compact for Migration, ILO Fair Recruitment Agenda, the IOM IRIS standard, the Colombo Process, and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue.  We call on governments to ensure that no workers should have to pay recruitment fees to secure decent work.’

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting every individual’s life and the extensive impact of the pandemic was stretching from threats to an individual’s health, welfare, and livelihood to the economic and political stability of a country.

‘All these pile-up and exacerbates the struggle of the vulnerable groups including migrant workers. Many migrant workers have been found positive for COVID-19. Health care workers are among those vulnerable as they are at the frontline treating those who are sick.’

‘Migrants living in crowded and unsanitary dormitories were also infected with COVID-19. Women migrant domestic workers are working much longer hours, exposed to violence in the workplace and unable to seek help due to quarantine measures put in place.’

In the current global economic system, migrant workers pay exorbitant recruitment fees to secure low paying jobs, said the statement, adding that ‘as a result, migrant workers typically remain indebted for as much as a year or two before they are able to earn a proper living wage enabling them to sustain themselves and their families.’

The statement said that the current corona virus crisis has put an abrupt end to the deployment and employment of millions of migrant workers across the globe, many of which were indebted to agents, subagents, family members or small lenders back home.

‘If there is one thing that we could learn from this crisis is that we must radically bring an end to the current situation of and move towards an employer pay model of recruitment. No worker should have to embroil one’s self in debt in order to secure a job.’

Referring to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals 8 on decent work that further calls for the protection of labour rights and promotion of safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.

The Global Compact for Migration adopted by governments in 2018 specifically calls on states to facilitate fair and ethical recruitment and safeguard conditions that ensure decent work, the statement said.. 

They called on the governments to review and amend existing policies and procedures on recruitment to take into consideration situations of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

They said that the governments need to ensure that in this time of crisis private recruitment agencies are required to provide support to their workers especially to those in the first six months of their contract.

The organizations also urged the governments to put in place databases with contacts of migrant workers who have lost their jobs and returned home so that if and once these jobs become available they can resume work with a more direct and expedited recruitment experience without the need to go through recruitment agencies and other formalities.

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