ASEAN close to signing migrant workers deal
After almost 13 years, ASEAN member states are tipped to establish a regional mechanism to protect workers criss-crossing the region, many without a proper safety net.
ASEAN leaders are expected to sign a landmark document that would further protect and promote the rights of migrant workers during the summit that will be held over the weekend.
Philippine Department of Foreign Affair said that the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers will be one of the highlights of the weekend’s summits.
The new accord will further strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment as well as access to health service for the migrant workers in the region.
The rights of migrant workers is under the ASEAN Socio-cultural Community (ASCC). Authorities concerned have been discussed for quite sometimes over ways and means each member of ASEAN can help out to protect migrant workers in their countries.
Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have millions of migrant workers in their countries from Myanmar. At the moment, Thailand has nearly 6 million migrant workers from Myanmar. Malaysia also has over one million Indonesian and several hundred thousands of Myanmar workers. Singapore has overall the largest number of migrant workers from various ASEAN member countries up to 400,000 workers.
Since 2004, ASEAN members have been negotiating on how to establish a regional mechanism to help protect and promote the rights of migrant workers. In the past, such programmes were done under bilateral cooperation.
However, in September, the ASEAN ministers responsible for social and cultural pillars met and discussed in the Philippines to decide whether the new landmark document should be legally binding or not. Indonesia wants the new accord to have legal commitment. Other members would prefer the so-called morally binding.
According to the ASEAN website, the consensus has brought regional cooperation to greater heights in building a people-centred, people-oriented community, since the signing of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in 2007.
“The many years of tireless negotiations have brought to fore many issues surrounding labor migration and enabled member states to better understand one another and work out solutions towards better protection and promotion of rights of our migrant workers,” Deputy Secretary-general for ASCC Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee said.
Aside from the highly anticipated document, ASEAN is also expected to adopt the Declaration on ‘Culture of Prevention’ for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society at the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings from November 13 to 14.