Fair recruitment for migrant workers a shared responsibility

Kathmandu (Nepal) – The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a meeting on improving recruitment conditions and reducing vulnerability to forced labour

As millions of workers are migrating for job opportunities worldwide, the need for reliable information sources, legal advices and experiential reports is higher than ever. Retention of passports, deception about working conditions and indebtedness caused by recruitment fees: The list of abuses by public and private labour recruitment agencies is long.

To tackle this problem, ITUC and FES Nepal Office organized a meeting together with the ITUC’s national affiliates and partners from Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal and Malaysia, as well as the members of the Migrant Forum in Asia. Taking place on 24-25 May, the meeting pursues the goals of the Third ITUC World Congress in 2014, where the ITUC reaffirmed its commitment to connect migrant workers across borders to defend their rights to equal treatment and legal protection.

“Recruitment fees and related charges, like service fees to recruitment agencies or transportation costs, are common practices during migrant recruitments, although they should be paid by the employers”

As migrant workers face several hardships regarding their recruitment processes, working conditions and access to affordable dispute resolution mechanisms, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has several non-binding general principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment.

 “General principles of fair recruitment are crucial for migrant workers,” said Ray Niyama of the ILO's Nepal Office. “Recruitment fees and related charges, like service fees to recruitment agencies or transportation costs, are common practices during migrant recruitments, although they should be paid by the employers.”

The ILO principles also contain regulations regarding the respect for the worker’s mobility, access to free or affordable grievance and other dispute resolution mechanisms, and requirements regarding workers' contracts. The responsibilities to ensure fair recruitment processes are shared between governments, employers and labour recruiters.

"Regulation on labour recruiters is urgently needed"

Chidi King, director of ITUC's Equality Commission, stressed the role of recruiting agencies when it comes to human rights abuses of migrant workers. "The role of labour recruiters is sharply rising and needs to be regulated.” Such regulation “is urgently needed to ensure their compliance with international laws as well as laws of the countries of origin, destination and transit of migrant workers,“ he said.

ITUC has been reinforcing their engagement in tackling deceptive and coercive recruitment processes of migrant workers through the global web-based project of the Migrant Recruitment Monitor (MRM) website. The MRM website, currently under development, will increase knowledge of safe recruitment options and facilitate the sharing of migrant workers’ recruitment experiences. This will enable the ITUC and its affiliates to create a global platform that provides accurate information on recruitment to both prospective workers and migrant workers already living and working in countries of destination.

“MRM will be a global homepage with country-specific legal advices and subdomains in the national languages of the respective countries,” said Mathieu Debroux, coordinator for campaigns and communication at ITUC Brussels. Furthermore, it will allow workers to evaluate and rate the recruitment agencies they come into contact with. This will serve as an important informational resource for migrant workers, while increasing pressure for the agencies’ compliance on human rights regarding coercive and deceptive recruitment procedures.

The project of the MRM website integrates large-scale outreach to migrant workers, organising and advocacy, both online and offline. Implementation of the project involves member organisations and requires national plans to inform migrant workers of their rights and to mobilise and organise them.

“The website will be as interactive and simple as possible for the users and recipients. Besides that the promotion, also through partners and partner organisations, will be crucial for the success of the website” Debroux added. ###

For more information about the work of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Nepal contact the office team at fes(at)fesnepal.org.

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