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FACTS ON Labour Migration Millions of people worldwide are leaving their home countries every year in search of work. But many are not looking simply for better work. Propelled by poverty and insecurity, they are looking for any work. Migration of labour is a key feature of globalization, and it makes a significant impact on the world economy. Every year, migrant workers send home to developing countries large volumes of remittances, – estimated at US$160 billion or US$250 billion with informal
  FACTSON Labour Migration  Millions of people worldwide are leaving their home coun-tries every year in search of work. But many are not lookingsimply for better work. Propelled by poverty and insecurity,they are looking for any work.Migration of labour is a key feature of globalization, and itmakes a significant impact on the world economy. Everyyear, migrant workers send home to developing countrieslarge volumes of remittances, – estimated at US$160 billionor US$250 billion with informal remittances in 2005 – tosupport their families and communities, while at the sametime contributing to the economic growth and prosperity inhost countries. Today’s migrants face many challenges –including poor conditions of work and discrimination.Migrant workers are increasingly in demand, not only forhigh-skilled information technology and professional jobs,but also for many of the low-paid, less skilled jobs in agri-culture, cleaning and maintenance, construction, domesticservice, and health care. Migrants are often relegated to the“three D” – dirty, dangerous, and degrading – jobs thatnational workers reject or are not available for. Manymigrants work in precarious and unprotected conditions inthe growing informal economy.There is global consensus now on contributions of labourmigration to growth and development in both source anddestination countries. It contributes to home country devel-opment through worker remittances, the transfer of capitaland skills through returning migration and transfers of skillsand technology and investments by transnational communi-ties abroad. Yet the loss of crucial skills (brain drain) fromdeveloping countries is a cause for concern.Global labour mobility ensures efficient and optimal utiliza-tion of labour. But barriers are being erected to mobilitybetween potential migrants and labour market demand forforeign labour in host countries. This leads to the unfortu-nate result of making smuggling and trafficking of humanbeings a highly profitable enterprise at the expense of gross violations of basic human and labour rights.Labour migration policies that are not founded on a respect for human and labour rights can exact high costs onindividual migrants and their home societies. There is evidence that 10-15 per cent of migration today involves migra-tion under irregular situations – entering or working in countries without authorization. Irregular migration leads to highlevels of exploitation, forced labour, and abuse of human rights.The global challenge today is to formulate policies and mechanisms to regulate and manage labour migration and ensurethat it contributes positively to development of both home and host societies and to the well-being of migrants themselves. InternationalLabourOrganization  Key Statistics  In 2005 there were 191 million migrants(persons living outside their country of srcin orcitizenship) which includes those migrating foremployment, their dependants and refugees andasylum seekers.  ILO estimated that 86 million of the 175 inter-national migrants in the year 2000 were economicallyactive – migrant workers, distributed as follows:Africa: 7.1 millionAsia, including Middle East: 25 millionEurope, including Russia: 28.5 millionLatin America and the Caribbean: 2.5 millionNorth America: 20.5 millionOceania: 2.9 million  Women now constitute 49 per cent of migrantsworld-wide and more than 50 per cent in Asia,Europe, Latin America, North America andOceania.  The US$250 billion sent home by migrantworkers is a larger sum than all official developmentassistance, and foreign direct investment.  Developing countries lose 10 to 30 per cent of skilled workers and professionals through “braindrain.” LDCs are especially affected.  There is a high level of labour market discrimi-nation against migrant workers in industrializedcountries. ILO studies showed that more than onein every three qualified immigrant applicants wereunfairly excluded in job selection procedures.  The Role of the ILO The protection of migrant workers and improvement of their working conditions have been concerns of theILO since its establishment in 1919. The emergenceof international labour migration as an importantglobal phenomenon has called for an intensified ILOrole in this area.The 92 nd session of the International LabourConference (ILC) in June 2004 adopted by consensusa “Resolution and Conclusions concerning a fair dealfor migrant workers in a global economy”. This deci-sion noted that: “The ILO’s mandate in the world of work as well as its competencies and unique tripartitestructure entrust it with special responsibilitiesregarding migrant workers. Decent work is at the heartof this. The ILO can play a central role in promotingpolicies to maximize the benefits and minimize therisks of work-based migration.”The ILC called on the Office and its constituents tocarry out a Plan of Action on migrant workers; thisplan includes strengthening ILO activity in thesefields:  Development of a non-binding multilateral frame-work for a rights-based approach to labour migration,taking account of labour market needs and sovereigntyof States;  Wider application of international labour standardsand other relevant instruments;  Support for implementation of the ILO GlobalEmployment Agenda at the national level;  Upholding social protection for migrant workers;  Providing capacity-building, awareness-raisingand technical assistance worldwide;  Strengthening social dialogue;  Improving the information and knowledge baseon global trends in labour migration;  Participation in relevant international initiativeson migration.The Plan of Action is now being implemented. TheILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration willbe promoted in all ILO labour migration activities.For more information: www.ilo.org/migrant  Relevant Conventions – ILO Convention No. 97 on Migration for Employment, 1949– ILO Convention No. 143 on Migrant Workers (SupplementaryProvisions), 1975– 1990 International Convention for the Protection of the Rightsof All Migrant Workers and Members of Their FamiliesAll International Labour Standards apply to all migrant workersregardless of status, except where explicitly exempted in a fewILO Conventions. International Labour Office4 route des Morillons CH-1211 Geneva 22 SwitzerlandTel. +4122/799-7912 Fax +4122/799-8577 www.ilo.org/communicationJune 2006 The Decent Work Agenda Decent Work is a development strategy thatacknowledges the central role of work in people’slives: work that is productive and delivers a fairincome, security in the workplace and social pro-tection for families, better prospects for personaldevelopment and social integration, freedom toexpress concerns, opportunity to organize and par-ticipate in decision-making, and equal opportunityand treatment for all women and men. Decent work belongs at the heart of global, national and localstrategies for economic and social progress. It iscentral to efforts to reduce poverty, and is a meansfor achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainabledevelopment.Putting the Decent Work Agenda into practice isachieved through the implementation of its fourstrategic objectives with gender equality as a cross-cutting objective:Creating Jobs – an economy that generates opportu-nities for investment, entrepreneurship, job creationand sustainable livelihoods;Guaranteeing rights at work – obtain recognitionand respect for the rights of workers. All workers,and in particular disadvantaged or poor workersneed representation, participation, and good lawsthat are enforced and work for, not against, theirinterests;Providing basic social protection – marginalizationand poverty mean that those most in need do nothave minimum protection against low or decliningstandards of living; andPromoting dialogue and conflict resolution – peoplein poverty understand the need to negotiate andknow dialogue is the way to solve problemspeacefully. Social dialogue, involving strong andindependent worker's and employers' organizations,is central to increasing productivity and avoidingdisputes at work, and to building cohesive societies.
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