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.

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - THE MYAN­MAR TIMES

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.

Mi­grant Myan­mar fish­er­men un­load fish from a Thai boat at a jetty in Sa­mut Sakhon prov­ince. If ASEAN mem­bers sign a new ac­cord on mi­grant work­ers at a sum­mit in Manila this week­end, it will pro­vide huge re­lief for mil­lions of work­ers in the re­gion. Photo:

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