International Migrants Day

Today, on International Migrants Day, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) acknowledges the enormous contribution of migrants to economic, cultural and social life.  According to the UN, some 270 million people, or around 3.5% of the world’s population today, are migrants.

“Migration has been, and remains, absolutely essential to human progress in every part of the world. The vilification, harassment and discrimination which some governments and politicians inflict on migrants, including refugees, is shameful.  Too many governments are resorting to racism and xenophobia to cover their own failings and hold on to power by the vilification of people who come from elsewhere. Not only does this cause social division, it also leaves migrants more vulnerable to exploitation at work and social exclusion,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC is calling for governments to ratify and implement internationals standards that protect migrant workers including ILO Conventions 97, 143, 189 and 190, and for regulations that stop recruitment agencies profiting from unacceptable practices which leave migrating workers at the mercy of unscrupulous employers.

Governments are also urged to learn from the daily experiences of trade unions in organising and representing migrant workers, and to support union programs that connect unions in countries of destination and of origin.

“From the demand for the dismantling of the kafala system in the Gulf States, to actions by unions and others to safeguard migrant workers’ rights, there are many good examples of how to ensure that migrating to another country to work is beneficial not only to the employers for whom they work, but also to the families and home communities of the migrant workers. Now, with climate change already driving millions from their homes, on top of the movements of people caused by poverty and conflict, the world needs to put in place multilateral processes that actually work. This means respect for the rights of migrants as defined in international law, as well as ambitious action on climate change and poverty, and to promote peace. Without stability and opportunity, too many people are left with no choice but to leave their homes,” said Burrow.