Direct services to migrant workers through unions and migrant resource centres, increased access to complaints mechanisms, organising, continuing capacity building of focal points and clear responsibilities of the parties involved highlighted the work plan prepared during the Follow-up Training on Strengthening Joint Union Actions on Decent Work for Migrant Workers on 8-12 May 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Union-run Migrant Resource Centres (MRCs) would strengthen direct services to migrant workers. Further support to existing, and additional, union-run MRCs in strategic countries of destination in the Arab States and Southeast Asia would determine appropriate services, especially to migrant workers in distress.

The focal points and MRCs would use an online database for inquiries and complaints of migrant workers for proper documentation and tracking of progress of complaints and case reports. The database would be similar to the system developed by the ASEAN Trade Union Council (AseanTUC) with support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Analysis of complaints and policy recommendations from the database would help address migrant workers’ concerns in both destination and origin countries.

Mr. Harry Cunningham of the ITCILO giving an intervention.

Mr. Harry Cunningham, with a microphone, of the ITCILO giving an intervention.

Referrals of inquiries and complaints to proper government agencies or partner organisations would ensure the cooperation of stakeholders from both destination and origin countries. This would accelerate organising migrant workers into unions for collective bargaining or associations and coalitions for mutual aid and protection.

These require national union organizations to designate or support their focal points for migrant labor. The focal points are on the frontlines of providing information and services to migrant workers. Strengthening their capacity in the proper handling of migrant workers’ complaints and grievances would provide more efficient assistance and services to migrant workers.

The work plan would strengthen the interregional cooperation among the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ArabTUC), South Asia Regional Trade Union Council (SARTUC) and AseanTUC as laid out in their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to protect migrant workers. With support from the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP), the three organisations signed the MoU in August 2015 as a response to the challenges of labour migration in the Arab States, South Asia and Southeast Asia regions.

Terms of Reference with key responsibilities of parties involved in the implementation came with the work plan. The focal point for migrant labour would be the key person for labour migration at the national union organisation. The national union or a steering committee would oversee implementation of the work plan at the national level. ArabTUC, SARTUC and AseanTUC would coordinate implementation in their regions. A Committee of Six plus ITUC-AP would monitor and evaluate the implementation of programs and actions.

Participants, with Mr. Ariel Castro of ITCILO/ACTRAV (left), during a presentation.

Participants with Mr. Ariel Castro of ITCILO/ACTRAV (left) during a presentation.

Focal points for migrant labour from AseanTUC and representatives of ArabTUC and SARTUC drafted the work plan in a series of workshops including a SWOT analysis of implementing the MoU. They drew inspiration from the union leaders and speakers during the first day of the training and the key priorities agreed upon in May 2016.

The International Training Centre of the ILO (ITCILO) and Bureau for Workers’ Activities of the ILO (ACTRAV) sponsored the activity as follow up to the training of focal points in Manila in December 2016.