Proactive roles of unions, CSOs stressed

Staff Correspondent | Published: 02:34, Dec 05,2019


Lawmakers, senior government officials and migration experts on Wednesday called for collective role of trade unions and civil society organisations for the protection of migrant workers at home and destination countries.

They made the call while speaking at a national consultation on ‘Trade Union and Civil Society Organisations’ Collaboration for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration,’ jointly organised by Solidarity Centre and WARBE Development Foundation at the conference room of the Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies in Dhaka.

A common platform of trade unions and civil society organisations for national advocacy on migration in Bangladesh launched on Wednesday to promote decent work across all sectors for migrant workers.

The goal of the platform was to collectively move forward towards effective implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration with strong trade union and civil society involvement, said labour rights activists.

Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration and Development chairman Israfil Alam MP, speaking at the closing session, said that if the trade union leaders worked together with migrant rights activists many problems of the migrant workers would be solved and the migration sector would be developed.

‘We will be able to develop more if we work together,’ he said, adding that the government alone could not take the migration sector ahead.

Speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural session, Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry’s secretary Salim Reza said that the government sought cooperation of all stakeholders to solve the existing problems in the migration sector.

‘We welcome the initiative of the common platform of trade union and CSOs,’ he said, adding that the collaboration could help protect the migrant workers at home and abroad.

Solidarity Centre’ country programme director Jon Hartough said, ‘Effective implementation, enforcement, and monitoring are essential to ensuring that migrant worker rights are protected in an equal and consistent manner across the region, and in order to achieve that we have developed the nine-point Common Platform.’  

Together with key CSOs, NGOs, and important policymakers and the government officials, trade unions had a duty to raise concerns about worker rights and protection from exploitation and labour abuse — both here and abroad — and a strong and coherent trade union voice had been absent from the conversation for too long, Jon Hartough said. 

He added that trade unions had important networks in both sending and receiving countries that could link migrant workers with resources and assistance to protect themselves.

Putting emphasis on engaging policymakers, Jon Hartough said, ‘Engaging key policymakers and politicians is an essential step in protecting migrant worker rights, and in developing meaningful and effective policy that gets intended results.’

Trade unions should be involved in discussions on the National Action Plan, he said, adding that all Bangladeshi migrant workers should be protected overseas.

EWOE ministry’ additional secretary Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said that safe, orderly and regular migration could be ensured through partnership of all stakeholders.

He said that trade unions could play their role with CSOs to protect migrant workers.

BOMSA director Farida Yesmin made a Power Point presentation at the consultation.

Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training director Nurul Islam, WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque, National Domestic Workers’  Union adviser Abul Hossain, Bangladesh Ovibshi Odhikar Forum chairman Nazmul Ahsan, lawyer Uttam Kumar Das, former secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies Ali Haider Chowdhury, Garment Workers Solidarity Federation Sriti Akter, journalists Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan and Arafat Ara and Institute of Informatics and Development chief executive Syeed Ahamed spoke at the consultation.

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