Protecting rights of migrants is mandate of ILO and Trade Unions

By Daniel Bakalangudde.

Since migrants work in precarious conditions, it’s the mandate of both International Labour Organization (ILO) and trade unions to safeguard themselves of any kind of abuse.

The Assistant Director-General and Regional Director, ILO ROAF, Ms Cynthia Samuel Olonjuwon made the remarks during a two-day Inter-Regional Forum on promoting Union to Union Agreements between Trade Unions Organizations in East Africa and the Arab States.  This was aimed  at the protection of Migrant workers from the East Africa  during a Zoom  conference held at Eureka Place hotel in Ntinda.

Cynthia said that International Labour Organization (ILO) has been working hard to achieve equality of work for the migrant workers. She added that ILO is working to enhance capacity to promote the welfare of migrant workers’ rights in Africa. She said:” We  continue to protect the rights of migrant workers”.

 ILO is working to enhance capacity of promoting welfare of migrant workers’ rights in Africa.  A total of 2.4m of migrant who migrate to Arab states for economy and domestic reasons are women.  These are the women who experience abuses, forced labour and human trafficking.  Trade unions have a role to defend the freedom of migrant workers and need to promote legal standards to ensure the rights of migrant workers are respected. 

Union to union collaborations are very  key and can go a long way in ensuring that the rights of migrant workers are protected. This meeting will identify in Arusha Agreement- decline to strengthen the institutions through the promotion of fair and effectiveness  that can be achieved through dialogue.

ILO has already delivered on its mandate and continues to protect the rights of migrant workers.

 She commended the trade unions for protecting the migrant workers. This is an important area of ILO in the context with Africa and is in Abidjan declaration.

Sophia Kagan, Chief Technical Advisor, Fairway, ILO-ROAS said  they represented a study on improving protection of Africa migrant workers in the Arab states. Trade union collaborations.

According to ILO global it estimates 24.1m persons in 2019 representing 14 percent of all migrant workers wide world. 

The high proportion of the labour force, in the region has the highest share of migrant workers as a proportion of total workforce.  Majority of the migrant  workers are women and they are the ones doing domestic worker, 99 percent are Ugandan migrants.

Ms Sophia said that the challenges include; hardship to navigate dispute resolutions channels and lack of effective inspections means that migrants have to rely on embassy support, or humanitarian assistance from the diaspora which may not be available for all African migrants,  and lack of freedom of association among others.

 There are many examples of the ways in which trade unions  from origin and destination countries have collaborated with each other to support migrant workers, including informal or adhoc collaborations on specific issues or cases which arise , as well as formal collaboration through MOUs .

There are a number of challenges preventing effective implementation of MOUs that is important to learn from first  and past experiences. The challenges include language barriers, financial constraints, gender barriers for women. In nutshell, MOUs between trade unions are not effective as expected to improve.

Majority of them are women and they are the ones doing domestic workers, 99 percent are Ugandan migrants who are doing domestic work■

About the Author.

The Author is a journlist, social critic and a human rights activist.

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