Hon’ble Chair / President and Colleagues,
On the outset. I on behalf of “Hind Mazdoor Sabha” one of the “Central Trade Unions” recognized by the Government of INDIA representing more than 9.1 Million Indian Workers from all sectors of the economy would like to express my hearty gratitudes to “General Federation of Bahrin Trade Union (GFBTU) for inviting me to the
6th International Conference on Domestic Workers and also to be a panelist in penal discussion organised with the cooperation of ITUC on “Just Employment for Migrant Workers”.
Migration has been an integral phenomenon of human activities since it’s evolution with changes in forms and patterns. In modern times the labour migration process is believed to be mutually beneficial to country of origin and that of destination, the nation in transit also is benefitted.
Migration affects socio – economic conditions of the migrant workers, their families, society at large ultimately it contributes to the economic development of the sending, transit and destination countries.
South Asia is privilege to be the region which sends largest number of migrants. There are millions of migrants from South Asia living abroad for employment. South Asian Labour Migrants choose “Gulf Cooperation Council” (GCC) countries as destination. South Asia is known as producer of low skilled, semi-skilled labour migrants. It is true that while enjoying benefits these migrant workers are able to send good amount of money to their families, back home which help their families manage to improve living conditions, at the same time it is also true that migrant workers face lot of difficulties including wage theft, unfair recruitment process, discrimination among workers of host country in respect of remuneration, benefits etc “attack on workers’ rights, exploitation, trafficking and smuggling, high cost of transfer of remittance , death and injuries, poor assess to justice and many more in the process of migration”.
The covid 19 pandemic has further exaggerated the situation of international labour migrants, millions lost their jobs, were held up either in destination country or in transit in case of those who could leave the destination country but could not get the connected flight to their home country, (due to suspension of flights).
Loss of job of migrant workers resulted in stoppage of remittance to families in home country who were fully dependent on the remittance from migrant workers. Families were put in grave financial crisis to maintain their status, some had to withdraw their wards from educational institutions as they had no other source of income not even ever imagine such a situation. It also effected revenue collection of destination country as the remittance of money by the migrant workers to their families in native nation earned lot of revenue for destination countries job loss of migrant workers due to corona pandemic meant reducing purchasing power of their families back at home, it in turn had a negative impact on market of home country as well as that of destination country.
The ILO General Principles and operational guidelines (GPOG) for fair recruitment provides that no worker shall bear the recruitment cost or related costs or shall not be charged any cost however migrant workers in the region are compelled to pay on an average of 10 and the maximum of around 18 months of wages as recruitment fees and related costs, it is as per assessment of GCM 19th June, 2022.
There are over 250 million migrant around the world living outside their country of birth. The figure is expected to grow, the reasons are very many like population growth, poverty, economic backwardness, alarming, spiraling unemployment, rising inequality within and between countries, increasing connectivity, trade, demographic imbalances and climate change with more than 250 million unemployed and underemployed, no letup in increasing migration. Their search for a decent work push them to foreign shores.
Migrant workers are facing undue hardships and abuses in form of low wages, poor working conditions denial of freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination, racism and xenophobia as well as social exclusion in certain cases.
They are used as cheap labour very often.
ILO Centenary Declaration for future of work of 2019 commits government and social partners.
These rights should be respected and applied to any group of workers including informal workers, domestic workers, migrant workers and platform workers unfortunately due to non-unionization, unaware of their rights the migrant workers are not enjoying above.
We should attempt.
Harmonization among the regional countries, noting that workers having similar labour skills are going to GCC countries.
To enable workers to organise in nations where freedom of association is not allowed, standardization of recruitment contract, social protection to workers.
42nd ASEAN Summit held in Labvan Bajo in Indonesia passed a resolution on 10th May, 2023 “Asian Declaration on Protection of migrant workers and their families”.
We should evolve some concrete follow-up action to mobilize the migrant workers and also to persuade governments to respect the declaration.
Regional Consultation on SARTUC – SAFE Further Collaboration in the protection and welfare of South Asian Migrant Workers held on 13 -14 August, 2023 , Hotel Himalaya Katmandu, Nepal.
Joint Resolution between SAFE and SARTUC 13-14 August, 2023 at Katmandu, Nepal.
· Two days SARTUC – SAFE Regional Consultative Meeting for Further Collaboration in the Protection and Welfare of South Asian Migrant Workers was held on 13 – 14 August, 2023 in Katmandu Nepal.
· As an outcome of the meeting both SARTUC and SAFE agreed to work together for safe, responsible and legal migration to protect the right of the migrant workers whole supporting the business based on the principles of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Global Compact on Migration (GCM), Just Transitions, and agree to carry out a joint research study on “South Asian Migrant Workers” encompassing present status, issues including gender perspective, best practices and preparing towards future of work.
There are other challenges for returnee migrants in their home country like:-
· No solid support of taking advantage of experiences and skills of returnee migrants by the government
· No concrete measure of skill development, lifelong learning to returnee migrant workers.
· The returnee workers may be utilized as trainer to provide training for those inspiring for taking up the skill in destination countries.
· The whole migration process should include workers representatives at all level to raise workers problems, search the solution and to safeguard workers interest.
Hind Mazdoor Sabha (INDIA)