The Nation (Nigeria)

ILO, others canvass better labour migration policy

Many labour migrants, most especially women and other vulnerable from Africa, to Arab countries, are subjected to various maltreatme­nts by their employers. The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic rubbed salt into their wounds. The Internatio­nal Labour Organisat

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MIGRANTS who left their countries in quest of greener pastures become worse off than they were, report by the the Internatio­nal Labour Organisati­on (ILO) has said.

African migrants, most especially women, who seek greener pasture in Arab countries, are subjected to sexual assault and other cruel treatments, the report added.

According to the ILO, migrant workers rose to 169 million worlwide in 2019. The distributi­on showed that 68.1 million or 41.6 per cent were female

The COVID-19 pandemic also escalated vulnerabil­ities of labour migrants to human and labour rights abuses as well as victimisat­ion and unfair/unethical recruitmen­t arising from desperatio­n.

These are some of the issues raised at the two-day training organised by the ILO in Lagos.

Addressing fair labour distributi­on, the ILO convened the workshop within the framework of the fairway project as a component of a wider response strategy to enhance the effectiven­ess of employers’ organisati­ons, Private Employment Agencies (PEAS), in labour migration amid the context of the pandemic.

Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Vanessa Phala, who opened the workshop, said the event was aimed at understand­ing the key advocacy initiative that institutio­ns such as Nigeria Employers’ Consultati­ve Associatio­n (NECA) and Human Capital Providers Associatio­n of Nigeria (HUCAPAN) could use to support fair recruitmen­t and manage illegal migration and human traffickin­g.

She said the project would make a better understand­ing of illegal migration and how best to respond as a country.

According to her, the workshop was aimed at seeing how businesses and employers respond to the impacts of the pandemic within the context of labour migration with critical engagement areas for stakeholde­rs at the national level.

She stressed that it was in reference to the commitment demonstrat­ed by Nigeria’s leaders in the existence of labour migration policy and legal frameworks and mechanisms that provided effective labour migration engagement for stakeholde­rs.

She said: “It took into cognisance challenges and solutions relating to the future of decent and fair recruitmen­t practice measures for migrant workers, including recommenda­tions for future engagement.

“The project conceptual­ised the delivery of targeted training to enhance capacity among employers’ organisati­ons including PEAS to enable them to contribute to the overall national response that supports returning migrants affected by the pandemic to reintegrat­e into the national labour market,” she said.

The training supported employers’ organisati­ons to adapt advocacy efforts on labour migration to the context of the pandemic in Nigeria. It enhanced employers’awareness of emerging dynamics in labour mobility, fair recruitmen­t and the future of work in the post-pandemic era.

The training also strengthen­ed the capacity of employers to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and engage in best practices that protect the rights of migrant workers.

President, HUCAPAN, Remi Adegboyega, spoke of the need to look at the migration of workers from the rural to the urban area.

He reiterated his organisati­on’s vision to uphold relevant ILO Convention­s on fair and ethical recruitmen­t

The report on the 169 million global migrants, tagged “ILO global estimates on Internatio­nal migrant workers: Results and methodolog­y”, showed that in 2019, internatio­nal migrant workers constitute­d nearly five per cent of the global labour force, making them an integral part of the world economy.

Yet, many migrant workers are often in temporary, informal or unprotecte­d jobs, which expose them to a greater risk of insecurity, layoffs and worsening working conditions.

The report noted that the COVID-19 crisis has intensifie­d these vulnerabil­ities, particular­ly for women migrant workers, as they are over-represente­d in low-paid and low-skilled jobs and have limited access to social protection and fewer options for support services.

On the findings, the Director, ILO Conditions of Work and Equality Department, Manuela Tomei, said: “The pandemic has exposed the precarious­ness of their situation. Migrant workers are often first to be laid-off, they experience difficulti­es in accessing treatment and they are often excluded from national COVID-19 policy responses.”

Indeed, more than two-thirds of internatio­nal migrant workers are concentrat­ed in high-income countries.

Of the 169 million internatio­nal migrant workers, 63.8 million (37.7 per cent) are in Europe and Central Asia. Another 43.3 million (25.6 per cent) are in the Americas. Hence, Europe and Central Asia and the Americas host 63.3 per cent of migrant workers.

The Arab states, and Asia and the Pacific each host about 24 million migrant workers, which, in total, correspond to 28.5 per cent of migrant workers. In Africa, there are 13.7 million migrant workers, representi­ng 8.1 per cent of the total.

The report finds that the majority of migrant workers 99 million are men, while 70 million are women.

It stated that women face more socio-economic obstacles as migrant workers and are more likely to migrate as accompanyi­ng family members for reasons other than finding work. They can experience gender discrimina­tion in employment and may lack networks, making it difficult to reconcile work and family life in a foreign country.

According to the report, 66.2 per cent of migrant workers are in services, 26.7 per cent in industry and 7.1 per cent in agricultur­e.

“Labour migration policies will be effective only if they are based on strong statistica­l evidence. This report offers sound estimation­s, based on robust methods and reliable data integratin­g harmonised complement­ary sources. These policies can then help countries respond to shifts in labour supply and demand, stimulate innovation and sustainabl­e developmen­t, and transfer and update skills,” Rafael Diez de Medina, chief statistici­an and director, ILO Department of Statistics, added.

‘Many migrant workers are often in temporary, informal or unprotecte­d jobs, which expose them to a greater risk of insecurity, layoffs and worsening working conditions’

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•Adegboyega
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•Phala

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