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ILO, others canvass better labour migration policy

Published by The Nation on Fri, 16 Jul 2021


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 Organisation (ILO), at a two-day training, examined how labour migration conditions from Africa to Arab countries could be improved. TOBA AGBOOLA reports.Migrants who left their countries in quest of greener pastures become worse off than they were, a 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 femaleThe 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 Nigerias 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 employersawareness 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 organisations vision to uphold relevant ILO Conventions on fair and ethical recruitmentThe 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 workers99 millionare 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.
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