How to strengthen the protection of migrant workers

*Published originally in Caribbean Migration Consultations (https://caribbeanmigration.org/blog/how-strengthen-protection-migrant-workers)

The new dynamics of migration are closely linked to the search of new opportunities of employment and income generation.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that around 27 per cent of all migrant workers worldwide are in the Americas, and 4.3 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, a figure that is continuously increasing.  Only between 2010 and 2015, the number of migrant workers in the region increased by 34 per cent.

This mobility is motivated by the search of better opportunities of employment and the desire of improving the quality of life of migrants, which interacts with other structural factors as poverty and lack of security, which are also drivers of migration.

The increase in the flow of migrant workers has considerable challenges in a labor market marked by unemployment and informality. According to data of ILO, unemployment affects 26 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean and at least 133 million people are impacted by informality, particularly women, youth and low-skilled workers with low educational attainment.

Against this backdrop, the 19th American Regional Meeting of ILO, and its report “Preparing the future of work we want in the Americas through social dialogue”, offers 10 recommendations to improve the protection of labor rights in migrant population and to promote migrant participation in the discussion and consideration to achieve the overall goal of decent work for all:

  1. Approach labor migration from a perspective of human rights, aligned with the principles of social justice and decent work.
  2. Address the gaps and fragmentation of migration governance in the regional integration agreements.
  3. Strengthen the labor rights approach in migration governance institutions.
  4. Promote the participation of labor issues key stakeholders in the regional consultation processes on migration.
  5. Integrate social dialogue about migration in the different processes of regional integration.
  6. Include Labor Ministries in the work of intergovernmental commission about migration.
  7. Promote measures to align migration and employment policies.
  8. Improve the capacities of institutions linked to the labor market to address issues of labor migration.
  9. Increase the participation of migrant workers in unions and associations to ensure their voice is included in processes of social dialogue.
  10. Improve knowledge and information about labor migration through the creation of information systems and statistical records.

Regarding these recommendations, Michela Macchiavello, IOM Regional Thematic Specialist for Labor Migration, underscored the growing importance of articulation with regional consultation processes on migration and the establishment of partnerships. In the Americas, the Regional Conference on Migration (CRM), for North and Central American countries, and the South American Conference on Migration, for South American countries; and most recently, the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC) are particularly relevant to the discussion, as they focus more and more on labor migration issues.

“IOM believes that a comprehensive governmental approach and the creation of partnerships that include agencies related to migration, civil society, the private sector, workers, migrant representatives and international are a priority for the effective and humane advancement of national and regional policies, including labor migration policies and programs that promote a regular, orderly and secure migration, while they provide protection to migrants and workers who are more vulnerable”.

Without a doubt, migration and labor mobility are and will continue to be of increasing importance for the world of work and, therefore, will require the attention and collaborative action of governments and other relevant stakeholders.

Sofía Cortés is the Digital Content Associate for the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC).


Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'

Interviewing Rubén Sánchez, Director of 'Zanmi'
Categoria: Communication & Migration
Autor: Laura Manzi

‘Zamni' (2018) is one of the films that participated in the 2020 edition of the Global Migration Film Festival. The short film, which was selected to be screened at regional level by the Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean, narrates the experiences and daily lives of four Haitian migrants in Chile and their integration process in the South American country.

In this interview, the young director Rubén Sánchez, tells what objectives and motivations guided him towards the creation of the short film.

Why did you choose young Haitian migrants as the protagonists of your work? Is there something in their profile that makes them different from other migrant communities in Chile?

What struck us is that the Haitian population here in Chile is the one that finds it most difficult to integrate into society. One of the main reasons is that they speak another language, the Creole language, and that is an even bigger barrier considering that Chilean Spanish has many idioms and tends to be spoken very quickly. Another obstacle to integration is the racism and rejection of some sectors of society towards the Haitian population: whether because of ethnicity, nationality, language or other prejudices. This leads to more segregation and not integration.

In the short film, there are many scenes that portray different landscapes: the sea, the forest, the city. What is the role of nature in the integration process of migrants?

Climatic conditions and landscapes can be a challenge for integration. For example, Haiti is very flat, there are no mountains and the climate is tropical. Here in Chile, nature and microclimates are quite diverse (the north has higher temperatures, the south is more humid and rainy, while the central zone is a mixture of these).
Nature, however, has also a symbolic purpose in the documentary. The mountain range, which characterizes the Chilean landscape, is the great frontier that any person faces to reach Chile. This justifies the scene that opens and closes the film and represents one of the protagonists in the Embalse del Yeso, which is a place here in Santiago, in the middle of the mountain range. We wanted to film those scenes there as a more oneiric way of representing this enormous wall that is like a border to cross in order to reach Chile, and that at the same time symbolizes the great wall that is in the cultural shock that the Haitian population faces.

‘Life is a circle. A perfect circle of which we are not a part': the protagonists in the film have jobs, go to school, learn Spanish. Then, what are the elements that continue to prevent their integration into the host community, this 'circle' from which they are excluded?

The cultural shock is big. If the host society lives this 'fear of the unknown', the Haitian migrant population in turn reacts and this generates a fear of the community where they live. The lack of integration is made difficult by prejudice and because initiatives that value cultural richness are not promoted. I think this is what we lack as a society: to be more educated. If there is no good education, there will be no people who cannot integrate; we still need to be educated and 'humanized'. I feel that in some way we are also 'dehumanized'. This is what the documentary wants to capture: to reflect on the humanity that we need, the humanity that we need to integrate others, to show that we are all really the same, we are all human beings and we all have dreams.

How much is the director visible in his work? How come are you interested in the subject of migration?

The issue of Haitian migration was, for me, a personal concern, because I live in one of the cities in Chile with the largest Haitian population. I used to witness daily this rejection of the Haitian population in the eyes of the people, in comments that were exchanged by whispering in the bus when I went to the university. I was worried about that.
Also, before I enrolled in audiovisual communication, I studied social work, and had many courses on the migration issue and related social policies. I did a lot of research on Haitian migration, which allowed me to capture the central idea of the short film. During the shooting process, I had the opportunity to meet these young people (Haitian migrants), to live their culture, to taste their food. I was filled with a culture that I didn't know, I was filled with knowledge, with a new experience. I wish this documentary could reach more people, change who we are and cultivate our humanity.