Governments must uphold migrant workers’ rights, access to justice and decent work

published 18 May 2022 updated 10 June 2022

Education International has joined other Global Union Federations in pushing the world’s governments to fully implement the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) formally endorsed by the UN General Assembly on 19 December 2018. They aim to ensure the GCM adheres to human and labour rights standards, while implementing a rights-based migration governance system that will improve migrants’ living and working conditions. The international trade union community also highlights that the right to fully access public services, including education, must be guaranteed.

First Global Review of the UN Global Compact on Migration

From May 17-20, the first global review of the GCM is taking place at the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), at the United Nations in New York The IMRF serves as the primary intergovernmental global platform to share progress, and discuss challenges, on the implementation of the GCM four years on by bringing together UN system representatives, Member States, and stakeholders.

The Labour Movement puts forward a clear demand to Member States gathering in New York: “Respect the right to self-association and collective bargaining of migrant workers regardless of migration status, and without fear of reprisal!”

On the eve of the IMRF, the Council of Global Unions (CGU), which represents more than 200 million workers across the world, has assessed the achievements of the Compact while putting forward its key demands centered on human and labour rights, decent work, quality public services, social dialogue and social justice.

Examples of trade union actions in favour of migrants’ rights highlighted

Throughout the world, trade unions are mobilising and leveraging the agency of migrant workers to organise and exercise their fundamental human and labour rights.

In a CGU Shadow Report published this week “Organising for Justice”, the CGU illustrates examples of the work carried out at local, national, regional, and global levels to promote the objectives of the UN Global Compact on Migration.

The report highlights the vital role of the labour movement in defending and promoting the fundamental human and labour rights of all migrants, regardless of status. It gives visibility to a wide range of actions at local, national, regional, and global levels that promote the objectives of the UN Global Compact on Migration to ensure that human rights, decent work, and social justice remain as pillars of the Compact’s implementation strategy. It shows that States need to shift priorities and approaches to meet the needs and demands of workers.

The global pandemic has laid bare the need for sweeping changes to fix the economy and political systems that are failing workers. The global labour movement has responded with a clarion call for a new social contract that ensures equality, inclusivity, safe and healthy workplaces, climate friendly jobs, rights for all workers, and universal social protection.

Coherent, rights-based migration governance is an essential part of the larger structural change, the international trade union movement stresses.

Education at the heart of migration policy

The report also notes that “education is particularly important for the inclusion of migrant and refugee children and governments in both transit and receiving countries need to ensure that they have access to quality education”.

Acknowledging that Education International is “a long-standing advocate for inclusive education systems and school communities where migrant and refugee children feel welcome,” it supports its demands that “teachers in destination countries should be trained and supported to meet the diverse needs of refugee and migrant children, and mechanisms to accredit and recognise the qualifications of migrant teachers should be put in place”.

In December 2018, Education International produced a toolkit on promoting the inclusion of migrants and refugees to assist education unions to understand the phenomenon of migration and forced displacement and develop activities to support migrant and refugee rights through education.

The European region of EI, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), has also promoted the inclusion of migrants and refugees in education through a European sectoral social partners’ project, which started in 2017 and concluded in 2019. Case studies from Spain, Serbia and Belgium highlighted the importance of support-based inclusive policies, the active use of first language as a vehicle for learning, the importance of professional development of teachers, support for migrant teachers and fostering cooperation with parents and the local community.

Support the international trade union movement’s call by asking your government to commit to the legally binding ILO international labour standards, to ratify the ILO conventions on migration and to incorporate them into national laws and policies.

Download and disseminate the Labour Movement's Report to the First Global Review of the UN Global Compact on Migration “Organising for Justice: Trade Union Actions in Defence of the Human and Labour Rights of All Migrants, 2022, Council of Global Unions”.

Download and disseminate The Labour’s Position of the 2022 International Migration Review Forum Progress Declaration.