Conference on labour migration

As a side activity for its General Assembly the PERC, in cooperation with Belgian unions, organised international conference Labour migration in Europe and Central Asia: challenge, opportunity and point for trade union action?

Migration in the PERC region has different reasons and patterns. Internal EU mobility is a result of integration and is an issue of internal EU policy and management. Migration to the EU from the neighbouring countries has both economic and humanitarian patterns, with the Eastern flow being mainly for economic reasons. Outside the EU migration, e.g. to Russia or Kazakhstan is mainly driven by economic reasons, and by humanitarian to Turkey. Whatever political, development or economic reasons, labour migration poses certain challenges and requires consolidated, human rights-based approach of unions in Pan-European Region and necessitates trade union actions towards policy making institutions, trade union members and migrant workers.

Heinz Koller ILO Assistant Director-General; Director for Europe and Central Asia, introduced the ILO standards for labour migration. François Vandamme, Vice-President, European Committee of Social Rights Trade, presented European Social Charter (Revised) articles that ensure rights of migrants and their families. Chidi King, ITUC Equality Director, presented ITUC work to promote Global Compact on migration, while Ludovic Voet, ETUC Confederal Secretary, introduced ETUC work on mobility and asylum. Ira Rachmawati from the ITUC Human and Trade Union Rights department introduced the work of the Recruitment advisor project of the ITUC.

The conference also discussed practical examples of cooperation between unions of countries of origin and destination, of integration of migrant workers in unions, underlined the necessity to campaign for the ratification of the ILO Conventions 97 and 143, as well as to work to combat the core causes of labour migration in the region – poverty, corruption and lack of decent work opportunities in countries of origin – and to make sure that all the countries respect labour rights of migrants, including freedom of association and non-discrimination.