World Refugee Day: we demand solidarity, better support and social dialogue

On this World Refugee Day, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reaffirms its commitment to peace and solidarity with the refugees across the globe.

The global refugee crisis is getting worse with conflict and war, severe climate change impacts and abject poverty on every continent.

One in every 95 people on earth has fled their home as a result of conflict or persecution. Putin’s war in Ukraine has exacerbated this, and based on UNHCR estimates, Africa and Europe are the regions with the highest projected resettlement needs for refugees.

The World Bank’s Groundswell report states that climate change could force 216 million people to migrate within their countries by 2050, putting these internally displaced persons at risk of discrimination and exploitation.

Through the principle of solidarity and equality for all, trade unions have been working hard to support refugees. From campaigning, advocacy and education to financial support and humanitarian aid, this work is done despite limited resources and challenging political situations.

In Greece and Jordan, trade unions have been providing refugees with vocational training programs to ease integration, support labour market inclusion and help protect refugees against exploitation.

In Kenya and Turkey, trade unions provide education to refugees on labour rights. In Guatemala and Croatia, trade unions have provided humanitarian aid, such as food and clean water, to refugees and internally displaced persons.

“Refugees and migrants belong in our workplaces and our communities, where they deserve equal treatment and the full protection of their rights. Canadian unions welcome refugees and migrants and support efforts to provide a place of safety to those most in need,” said Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “We are all wounded when refugees have to endure awful conditions and treatment. We call on governments around the world to increase commitment, efforts, and investment in humanitarian resettlement needs as part of states’ obligations under the Refugee Convention and its Protocol.

“This should be coupled with development of better systems that use social dialogue to support effective integration, including recognition of the skills of refugees to support full integration into the workforce, with full rights and union representation.”

Many countries, including in Europe, need workers as their populations age. The skills and incomes refugees can contribute to host nations boost economic growth and job creation for all. But this requires investment.

The ITUC calls on governments to increase funding for refugee needs, including social protection in host nations, and to contribute to global efforts to strengthen cooperation and develop a common strategy and effective response to refugee crises.

This means addressing the root causes of forced migration in addition to meeting the resulting humanitarian, resettlement and integration needs.