Posted at December 1st 2022 12:00 AM | Updated as of December 1st 2022 12:00 AM
The ILO has hosted the Virtual Roundtable Discussion: Protecting the Rights of Migrant Workers in Irregular Situations on 21 November 2022, in partnership with ILO-ITC. The event hosted a diverse range of experts to share their perspectives and approaches.
The panelists highlighted that migrant workers retain their fundamental human rights, regardless of migration status. However, the top priority in many jurisdictions remains immigration enforcement, rather than labour rights protection. They noted that there are many interlinked drivers of irregular labour migration, and that expanding and diversifying rights-based pathways for regular migration, in particular for low-skilled migrant workers, is essential.
Panelists also shared their approach to labour inspection in relation to irregular labour migration, highlighting the importance of a legislative framework that ensures fair recruitment and engages in proactive investigations. The importance of a "firewall" between labour and immigration authorities was also highlighted by multiple panelists.
Trade union representatives shared their important role in providing accurate information and referral services for migrant workers and in advocating for legislative reform that bridges worker supply and employer demand. Trade union representatives also highlighted that critical to the debate was the centering of the rights to freedom of association, the right to organize, and the right to collective bargaining – while addressing real labour market needs.
Participants further emphasized the importance of addressing the gender dimension of migration, including gender-based migration restrictions which may force women migrant workers into irregular migration channels.
To learn more about the ILO's work in this area, read the ILO Compendium which explores the relevant international labour standards that apply, and presents a variety of practices around the world – by states, workers' and employers' organizations, and others that can facilitate improvements in labour migration and promote and ensure migrant workers' rights.