International Migrants Day: A new social contract for migrants

photo: AFP

On International Migrants Day, 18 December, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) acknowledges the enormous contribution of migrants to economic, cultural and social life.

We call for governments to ratify and implement the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990), ILO Conventions 97 and 143, and ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors in order to ensure the extension of social protection security to all members of society, irrespective of contribution history.

Freedom of movement and access to social protection are both internationally recognised human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international legal instruments.

The world has witnessed an increase in migration in recent years. In 2019, according to the UN, some 270 million people, or around 3.5% of the world’s population, were migrants.

Migrants are disproportionately excluded from access to social protection, and at the same time more likely to be concentrated in low-paid, precarious and informal work, leaving them especially exposed to poverty, social exclusion and social insecurity.

Social protection for all

The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally exposed the fault lines between those who have access to social protection and those who do not, as hundreds of millions of workers have lost their jobs and livelihoods, and migrants have been disproportionately excluded from social support.

A new social contract is urgently needed to avoid a fragile and unequal recovery fueled by austerity policies and marked by precarious work, high unemployment, and economic uncertainty.

Ensuring universal social protection that is available to all workers without discrimination – including migrants – must be at the foundation of this contract, together with measures to create quality jobs, support access to fundamental rights, ensure equality, and support the inclusion of all people.

For more information, read the ITUC Economic Briefing on Ensuring Migrants’ Access to Social Protection here.