How to Strengthen the Protection of Migrant Workers in the Americas?

Category: 

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

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that around 27% of all migrant workers worldwide are in the Americas (37 million in North America and 4.3 million in Latin America and the Caribbean), a figure which is increasing.  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, celebrated from October 2-5 in Panama with the participation of IOM, 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 the 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.

 

 

   Sobre la autora:

Sofía Guerrero holds a Communications degree of the University of Costa Rica and a Master in International Human Rights of the Josef Korbel Schoof of International Studies of the University of Denver. She was a journalis at La Nación, Advocacy and International Cooperation Coordinator at Fundacion Paniamor, Communications Coordinator for Executive Education at INCAE Business School, and consultant for the Central American Integration System and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Wordship of Costa Rica. Recently, she worked as a Foreign Policy Attaché at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica. 

 


How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?

How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?
Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Laura Thompson

 

There is no doubt that the current pandemic has a broad humanitarian, social and economic impact in the short, medium and long term, which in turn may affect or delay the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at different levels and in various ways.

The most evident impact, obviously, is on Goal 3, which seeks to guarantee a healthy life and promote well-being. The pandemic has put enormous pressures on health systems not only in relation to the treatment and management of the virus, but also affecting the ability to care for patients who have other diseases and increasing the risk of complications in populations with compromised health states. The pandemic has given greater visibility to the importance of universal access to health systems regardless of people's migratory status. However, the pandemic will also have implications for other aspects of the 2030 Agenda.

 

Impacts beyond health

COVID-19 is also having a negative impact on the employment, economic and social situation of many households around the world, and on their ability to meet their needs, even the most basic ones. The economic crisis that the countries of the region are facing and the growing unemployment will be decisive in this regard, since apart from the pandemic, Latin America and the Caribbean reached an unemployment rate of 8.1% at the end of 2019, according to the International Labor Organization. And according to ECLAC projections, labor unemployment will rise to 11.5% in the same region, as a result of the contraction of economic activity by COVID-19.

Unemployment and the loss of purchasing power affect more severely migrant populations, since they are very often employed in the informal sector of the economy and have more precarious contractual working conditions, particularly women migrant workers. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, informal work engages around 50% of the total number of people employed. The increase in unemployment will impact the scope of Goal 8 (on full and productive employment and decent work for all), but also Goal 1 (the fight against poverty), Goal 2 (the eradication of hunger, food security and better nutrition), Goal 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls), and targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2, on trafficking and exploitation of people. ECLAC also emphasizes that Latin America and the Caribbean is already suffering a fall of -5.3% in GDP, the worst in its history.

Likewise, this pandemic could accentuate existing inequalities in societies, as well as the vulnerabilities of certain population groups, and consequently delay the achievement of Goal 10, which seeks to reduce inequalities between and within countries. In this context, migrants are one of those vulnerable groups that have been particularly affected by the pandemic and that are often left behind or forgotten in social protection and economic relaunch plans, or have limited access to them, either because of language barriers or because of their immigration status. All of this despite the enormous contribution that migrant workers make to the operation of essential basic services in many countries, as has become evident during this crisis.

Additionally, a decrease in the amount of international remittances is projected, which, according to the World Bank, would be reduced between 10% and 19.3% by 2020. Remittances are a fundamental component in the economy of some countries in the region, where they can amount to between 5% and 20% of the national Gross Domestic Product. A significant reduction in remittances would jeopardize the ability of many households in those countries to meet their most basic needs and their ability to invest in improving nutrition, education, and reducing child labor, among others, further emphasizing existing inequalities.

Finally, at the state level, due to the economic slowdown we are experiencing and urgent health needs, it is very likely that there will be a decrease in social spending or a reorientation of available resources, potentially at the expense of the more comprehensive vision contained in the Sustainable Development Goals, again affecting the scope of the transversal objectives of the 2030 Agenda.

 

Recovery and SDGs: the same path

But this should not lead us to pessimism and to think that we have lost the fight to achieve the SDGs. On the contrary, it is essential at this time to work together and forcefully to identify the additional difficulties that the current pandemic presents in achieving the 2030 Agenda. We must redouble our commitment and our efforts to ensure that the impact of the pandemic is incorporated into national plans and international assistance, as well as that the different realities and vulnerabilities of some specific groups are incorporated.

For this we must work from now on to ensure the universal attention of the health and education systems; in reducing remittance transfer costs (a topic included in Goal 10), as El Salvador is already doing, creating more resilient and inclusive cities in line with Goal 11 or strengthening forms of regular migration for migrant workers and decent working conditions (Goal 8).

The time is now: all organizations, governments and individuals have an important role in ensuring that the efforts for our Latin American region and the world to recover from the serious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are aligned with the 2030 Agenda and that we make sure we do not leave anyone behind.