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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

IUF Welcomes ILO Action Plan on Migrant Workers

Posted to the IUF website 18-Jun-2004

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The IUF welcomes the official adoption by the 2004 ILO Conference of an action plan for migrant workers. The plan adopted by the tripartite Committee on Migrant Workers recognizes the scope and importance of international migratory labour flows within a globalized world economy as well as migrant workers' particular vulnerability to exploitation, and incorporates many issues which the IUF and other national and international trade union organizations have been highlighting and organizing around. While the Committee's report and plan of action do not incorporate all trade union concerns, the ILO has now called for a (non-binding) multilateral framework for regulating the movement and the living and working conditions of migrant workers, and that is a significant outcome to the discussion.

The ILO's call for a rights-based regulatory framework includes, among other elements:

Adopting the plan commits the ILO governing body to periodically review progress in implementation. In addition, the ILO is expected to "participate actively in relevant international forums and to enhance cooperation with other relevant international organizations" as part of the implementation process. The ILO is also now required to assist governments, employer and worker organizations in developing information on best practice and "preparing educational materials, providing services to migrants, conducting anti-discrimination and integration activity, and addressing other concerns."

"The trade union movement hopes that this new action plan will serve as a concrete tool to promote greater protection of all migrant workers, both men and women. Despite the fact that migrants play an essential role in today's globalised economy, they continue to be particularly vulnerable to exploitation and many forms of discrimination. This plan should help to promote decent work and respect for the human rights and trade union rights of migrant workers," said Sharan Burrow, president of Australian trade union national centre ACTU and spokesperson for the workers group in the Committee on Migrant Workers.

This development gives us additional space to develop "best practice" standards by unions organizing migrant workers and fighting for their rights, as set out in the IUF Charter of Rights for Migrant Workers in Agriculture and initiatives by IUF affiliates organizing migrant workers in other sectors. The secretariat will be using the space opened up by this action plan to encourage union initiatives at all levels with respect to both governments and employers.

The full text, including the conclusions and action plan, of the Report on the Committee on Migrant Workers can be found on the ILO web site by clicking here.