Regional Conference on Migration Promotes Consular Protection for Migrant Workers
Panama – Fifty officials from the member countries of the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM) this week (25-26/04) participated in a workshop on the protection of migrant workers. The participants oversee the protection of their compatriots abroad as well as labour mobility issues, as officers in consulates and ministries of foreign affairs or labour in their countries.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) organized this regional training under the aegis of the RCM, to strengthen the skills and abilities of consular officials on this issue. It also seeks to promote coordination between consular entities and labour ministries of each country in the region for the defence, promotion, and protection of the rights of migrant workers.
"IOM welcomes the participation in this type of RCM event, the discussion mechanism on migration par excellence of this region, and appreciates that the government of Panama, which exercises its pro tempore presidency, gives relevance to these issues,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean.
He added, “It is essential to approach migration from a comprehensive perspective, since the protection of rights cannot be separated from other efforts of governance, promotion of sustainable development, economic growth, decent work and reduction of inequalities.”
According to ILO data, of the 244 million international migrants in 2015, 150 million were migrant workers. Although migrant workers contribute to the growth and development of the countries of origin and destination, different studies indicate that migrant workers in Latin America, especially when it comes to women and people in irregular migratory situations, face multiple violations to their labour rights regarding the payment of minimum wage, the maximum hours of work per day, access to social security, vacation pay, and other labour benefits.
"Working conditions are particularly bad for those migrants who work in the informal economy, especially if they are in an irregular situation,” said Francesco Carella, ILO labour migration specialist. “Migrant workers rarely report these facts. For one reason: they are considered to be without labour rights. And, secondly, they fear being deported."
“These regional exchanges reaffirm the will of our governments to implement joint actions with the objective of increasing the effective and fair governance of labour migration as an essential element to maximize its benefits and minimize its risks and social costs,” added Nadia De Montenegro, Deputy Director for Legal Affairs and Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama. “While policies must be tailored to the different realities of countries, cooperation between relevant government agencies at all levels is crucial."
This meeting was organized within the framework of the RCM (also known as the Puebla Process), a multilateral mechanism to coordinate policies and actions related to migration in the 11 Member States of Central America and North America. The event was funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) through the IOM Mesoamerica Programme, and with ILO co-funding.