‘Same job, same rights’ - ISCOS campaigns for the inclusion of Pakistani workers in Italy

ISCOS join forces with the ILO on a project aimed to defend and promote Pakistani migrant workers’ rights, in line with the eighth target of SDG 8.

While the Pakistani community in Italy is rapidly growing, Pakistani workers, especially women workers, do often lack information on their labour rights and the services available for their socio-economic inclusion. This situation puts them in a very vulnerable situation and makes them easy targets of exploitative labour practices.

"Foreign workers, although they represent an important part of the workforce in many sectors and a fundamental component of Italian society, still suffer from social marginalisation and labour exploitation. Decisive action by trade unions is needed to foster the social inclusion and protection of these workers," said ISCOS President, Vincenzo Russo.

These premises underlie the information campaign of the Trade Union Institute for Development Cooperation(ISCOS) “Same job – same rights” which targets the 131,000 Pakistani men and women who live and work in Italy. The campaign is part of the project of the International Labour Organization (ILO): “Promoting Decent work opportunities for economic empowerment of vulnerable segments of society”, which is aligned with target number 8 of the Sustainable Development Goal 8: “Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment”.

Carried out in Pakistan, the project includes an Italy-based component on empowering Pakistani migrant workers and engaging the diaspora. ISCOS is responsible for this part of the project, with the support of the ILO Office in Italy and the funding of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.
In addition, the project also foresees a visit to Italy of a delegation of the Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), a key partner of the Italian Confederation of Trade Unions (CISL) and ISCOS. The organisations cooperate and exchange regularly on trade union challenges and the planning of new international cooperation initiatives. Last year, PWF published its first country reporton the state of the SDGs in Pakistan, and included the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable workers among its main recommendations to accelerate the realisation of the 2030 Agenda in the country.

After an in-depth mapping and active involvement of Pakistani associations in Italy, ISCOS both identified the training needs of the different Pakistani communities on social and labour rights, and developed a series of tailor-made information materials aiming at improving these communities’ awareness of the laws and social protection measures existing in Italy as well as facilitating their access to services for social and labour integration. The materials included information ranging from the different types of residence permits to the several kinds of contracts and health and safety regulations that exist in the country. All materials were produced and made available on different online channels both in Italian and Urdu.

These info-sheets are also used in trainings that ISCOS regional offices are organising throughout the country in collaboration with a group of mobilisers of the Pakistani communities in Italy and CISL trainers. The campaign is already bearing its fruits as hundreds of Pakistani workers have already been reached.

“Information and training of Pakistani migrant workers in Italy is key to ensure they are aware of their human and labour rights, as well as of the mechanisms to prevent and tackle any infringement of these rights. These activities are part of a broader initiative to promote decent work of all migrant workers in Italy, particularly those employed in economic sectors, such as agriculture, domestic work and construction, that are more exposed to labour exploitation, abuses and violation of workers’ rights” said Gianni Rosas, Director of the ILO Office for Italy and San Marino.

Finally, in collaboration with the Pakistani Government, the project is also carrying out research activity on the investment potential of Pakistani diaspora In Italy in their country of origin, to help improve existing mechanisms for the transfer of remittances and the creation of economic activities in Pakistan.