Education International
Education International

Migration: EI and Global Unions call for “Decent Work for All”

published 16 May 2014 updated 28 May 2014

Governments attending the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) must enact and implement a rights-based governance of migration and fair labour policies to ensure decent work for all workers in sending and receiving countries.

That's according to representatives of global unions federations (GUFs), including EI, who also met in Stockholm, Sweden.

The 2014 GFMD was hosted by the Swedish Government from 12-16 May. Following the 2nd UN High-Level Dialogue, held in New York in October 2013, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) tripartite meeting in November last year, participants discussed the contribution of migration to development, as well as ways to include migration-related goals and targets in the Post-2015 development agenda.

“Deteriorating conditions are forcing nurses, healthcare workers, and teachers to leave their jobs, resulting in a drain of skills in poor countries where they are desperately needed," said Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI), speaking at the joint meeting  between governments and civil society on 14 May. "When asked, these workers tell us that they would rather stay in their home countries, were they to find decent work.”

Focus on migrant workers' rights

EI and other GUFs called for a paradigm shift, from seeing migration as an enabler for development to a rights-based approach to international migration focusing on migrant workers’ rights.

Per Olof Sjoo, President of Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI), stressed that the governments’ “inability to ensure decent work, provide social protection, and deliver quality public services, forcing migrants to risk their lives to find work and a better life elsewhere, is in essence a failure of development”.

GUFs also reiterated the need for a stronger and more real political commitment towards a multilateral governance of labour migration.

“Governments should ratify and apply UN and ILO conventions protecting migrant workers’ rights and, especially, their right to join and form a union,” said Samidha Garg from the UK's National Union of Teachers; Garg is also a member of the EI Teacher Migration and Mobility Task Force.

Praise for EI initiatives

EI’s newly launched initiatives – the EI study, “Getting Teacher Migration and Mobility Right”, and the portal, http://www.migrantteachersrights.org– were recognised as good practices illustrating the key role played by unions in empowering migrants and protecting their rights.

“The one group consistently standing for migrant workers are trade unions,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder at his meeting with trade union representatives on the first evening of the GFMD. The EI study was presented to Ryder at the meeting.

You can also read the contributions of BWI President Per Olof Sjoo and PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli.