Migrant workers’ rights

As Walden Bello[i] notes, “Capitalism in the neo-liberal era destroys jobs at home and creates them elsewhere, forcing many into dangerous trans-border journeys to find those jobs. Unregulated as it is today, capitalism is marked by periods of expansion and contraction. When contraction arrives, the lot of the migrant becomes a perilous one… ”. According to Bello, most migrant workers would probably prefer to stay and work in their countries of origin if they could find the jobs that would provide them with a decent living. He also notes that remittance economy is not substitute for a vibrant domestic economy.

Though there are lots of negative realities of migration but the neoliberal globalization has made it obvious for skilled and unskilled laborers to desperately look for jobs elsewhere in the world. And in such a situation, both countries of origin and the host societies should respect and protect rights and dignity of migrant workers.

The 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families entered into force on 1 July 2003. The convention has 30 signatories and 42 parties.  A range of articles of this convention promotes and protects migrant workers’ rights such as Article 9 protects right to life of migrant workers and their families. Article 10 protects them from torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 11 (1) and (2) protects them from slavery or servitude and forced or compulsory labour. Though this convention has all necessary words for protecting the migrant workers and their families but unfortunately many countries are yet to sign as well as ratify it.

There is an urgent need to stop and punish unscrupulous agencies that are active at home as well as in host countries to spoil the labor markets. Civil society and non government organizations active in these sectors need to put attention and invest more time and energy on advocacy to create awareness as well as train people for being cheated against. Government needs to be conscious to compensate and create opportunities for cheated and empty handed workers to get back on track. Besides sound international relations with the host countries, good governance to manage employment export sector is fundamental to end disappointment of laborers and creating employment in host countries.

Changing attitude is a primer for changing behavior of concerned agents and authorities to bring back dignity and rights of migrant workers. Harassment, hassles, and inhuman treatment may not be a way forward for consistency and growth in remittance flowing. Migrant workers and their families deserve adequate level of safety net that would secure their health and well beings, which should be ensured by both country of origin and the host societies. There should be enough precaution to eventually stop empty handed return of workers.

Read here the detail article

End Notes: [i] Walden Bello, The migrant conditions, The New Age, Novermber 15, 2009.

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