US Democracy, Rights and Labour Project
Migrant Workers Organizing through Cooperation with Trade Unions
The project’s central objective is to protect the rights of migrant workers through organizing, empowerment activities, enhanced cooperation and trade union support in countries of origin (Myanmar, Indonesia, and Nepal) and destination (Malaysia and Thailand).
ObjectivesThe project’s central objective is to protect the rights of migrant workers through organizing, empowerment activities, enhanced cooperation and trade union support in countries of origin and destination. The project’s specific objectives are to:
- Empower migrant workers to exercise their rights by enhancing the role of trade unions in countries of origin (Indonesia, Myanmar and Nepal) in awareness raising and pre-departure training
- Increase capacity of migrant workers to assert their rights in countries of destination (Malaysia and Thailand), supporting the establishment of migrant worker associations; and
- Enhance the role of trade unions in the protection of migrant workers through organizing and increased coordination.
These objectives address the vulnerability of migrant workers in terms of rights abuses. Reports of migrants’ working conditions in Malaysia and Thailand frequently indicate pay abuses and the unlawful deduction of wages, excessive working hours, withheld passports and gaps in access to equal accident compensation. Migrant workers are also often denied the right to organize and freely associate. The project aims to better inform migrants of their rights, organize migrant workers so that they can assert these rights, and build the capacity of trade unions to assist migrant workers. The ILO has ongoing technical cooperation covering much of the Asia-Pacific region on the protection of migrant workers, and these include specific activities with trade unions. With this in mind, the project is designed to maximize impact in a short timeframe by utilizing existing ILO expertise, experience and resources.
To best support the objectives, activities are arranged by (1) activities in countries of origin, (2) activities in countries of destination, and (3) cooperation between the trade unions. Activities in countries of origin will focus on fulfilling Objective 1, with a focus on trade unions delivering pre-departure training and information to migrant workers. Activities in destination countries will fulfil Objective 2, by training migrant worker leaders in organizing, and supporting the establishment of migrant associations and networks. To address Objective 3, the project will support collaboration between migrant workers and trade unions, and support bilateral meetings and regional cooperation between trade unions.