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Trade Unions Hold Multi-regional Dialogue On Migrant Workers Rights 

In her continued commitment to fostering Migrant workers’ rights, About six regional trade union organisations would on December 2- 3, 2023 hold a Multi-regional dialogue and cooperation.

The dialogue that would be held in Nairobi Kenya, is apt considering the challenges that trade unions face in protecting and organizing migrant workers are significant. 

Relying on materials obtained from the ITUC-Africa, we gathered that the meeting happening after six organisations at the regional and sub-regional across the world signed a revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June 2023 to recommit to collaborating to advance pro-rights migration and labour migration governance. The MoU signing was a symbolic event, which was done in the office and presence of the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) during the 111th International Labour Conference (ILC). The MoU was signed amongst six regional trade union organisations, namely – the Arab Trade Union Confederation (Arab TUC), the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ASEAN-TUC), the South Asian Regional Trade Union Council (SARTUC), the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa), the Trade Union Confederation for the Americas (TUCA),  and the Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation for Asia and the Pacific (ITUC-AP). Another significance of the MoU signing is the addition of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as an Observer and supporter of the MoU implementation process.

Speaking to Comrade Akhator Joel, Deputy General Secretary of the ITUC-Africa,  he pointed out that the meeting is meant to concretise joint action necessary for showcasing the avowed commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers. 

He stressed that the absence of a legal framework that supports freedom of association and collective bargaining, especially in countries of destination, language barriers, and lack of capacity within the labour movement to organize migrant workers, are among the reasons that require improved cooperation within the trade union movement in both sending and receiving countries. 

The MoU was first signed in 2018. Comrade Odigie harped that “after five years of implementation work and gains made under this collaboration, the trade union confederations, plus a new observatory party, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) revised and renewed a joint MOU, signed in June 2023 during the International Labour Conference. The collaborating organizations have prioritized 10 reviewed actions: 

The Ratification and implementation of International Labour Standards, 

Advocating for legislation, and enforcement of legislation, consistent with ILS, Empowerment of migrant workers, Contributing to the advancement of fair recruitment.

Others are Advocating for improved and inclusive international cooperation, Promoting a decent work agenda, and Contributing to responsive actions to structural cris and effective social dialogue

Championing women migrant workers’ rights and Advocating for data collection, analysis, and utilization”.

The MOU is to be implemented following the principles of commonality, rights-based approach, inclusion, solidarity, participation, transparency, reporting and documentation.

On the objective, the Deputy General of ITUC -Africa, Comrade Akhator Joel Odigie said  “the meeting is for the respective regional and subregional trade union signatory party representatives, from the six regions, and one global to share knowledge and experiences in promoting a rights-based approach to labour migration with specific attention to the consolidation of best practices and lessons learned from the implementation of the 2018 MOU. 

The meeting will consist of two days of work. The first one would focus on sharing good practices under the implementation of the 2018 MoU, and the second one would be focused on planning COMMON work on implementing two of the ten priority actions identified in 2023. 

“These two days should give an indicator of the progress/results made/obtained between 2018 work and 2023.

“Before the meeting, the parties will need to prepare a short progress report, based on inputs from its national constituents, outlining best practices and key lessons learned from the implementation of the 2018 MOU, and concrete steps taken in the first six months of implementation of the 2023 MOU concerning the identified two priority actions. 

“The meeting will also explore key ways in which the parties can support their constituents, and each other, in achieving the work plans developed for the next stage of implementation of the MOU”.

On the action plans, he said ” “Ratification and implementation of international Labour Standards (ILS) – To work to increase ratification of relevant ILS and their utilization to best defend, protect and promote migrant workers’ rights.


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