Unions from Asia and Jordan are guiding men and women migrant workers, preparing them through skills development and pre-departure programmes in origin countries and asserting their rights in destination countries, often as joint activities with other organizations. These steps and initiatives surfaced during the ILO training Trade Union Policy and Organising on Labour Migration in Asia Pacific in Kathmandu, Nepal on 14-18 May 2018.
Unions push for “an orderly and equitable process of labour migration” within ASEAN, South Asia and the Arab region based on their capacities and resources. Union to union cooperation is emerging as a good practice in protecting the rights of migrant workers whose large number remains beyond the protection of unions and national laws. At the bilateral level for example, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress is working with unions in the Philippines, Nepal and Vietnam in organizing and providing services to migrant workers in Malaysia.
At the sub regional level, the ATUC inter-union agreement adopted in 2014 seeks to strengthen the cooperation among 18 national confederations from both origin and destination countries in ASEAN. This inter-union cooperation went beyond ASEAN in 2015 when ATUC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ArabTUC) and South Asia Regional Trade Union Council (SARTUC). With the support of the ITUC-AP, a joint migrant resource centre (MRC) will be established in Amman, Jordan in July 2018. The MRC will serve initially migrant workers from select countries in Southeast and South Asia.
The regional trade union organizations in Africa and the Americas are expected to sign an expanded inter-regional MoU with ArabTUC, SARTUC, ATUC and ITUC-AP at the side line of the 2018 International Labour Conference in Geneva.
Other resource persons discussed recent policy and governance developments, regional and global migration trends, Sustainable Development Goals and related targets, updates on the global compact on migration, fair recruitment, gender mainstreaming in labour migration and recognition of skills of workers.
The participants drew inspiration from these inputs in developing their regional and national action plans. The ASEAN and Jordanian unions focused on further reaching out to migrant workers through organizing and providing services, using the ATUC online database on documenting and tracking inquiries and complaints of migrant workers, starting social dialogue on fair recruitment and reviving campaigns on the ratification of ILO migrant labour conventions. The national unions provided actionable commitments and small steps which when combined would take a big leap forward in the protection of migrant workers.
Eighteen (nine women) union representatives from Jordan in the Arab region and Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam in ASEAN and Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia. The Programme for Workers’ Activities at the International Training Center of the ILO conducted the training workshop.
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