10 June 2014

African Leaders Urged to Address Causes of Labour Migration

Geneva, Switzerland — The Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) has called on African leaders to address the root causes of the unregulated movement of people from their countries in search of employment overseas.

OATUU Secretary General, Owei Lakemfa, who made the call at the plenary session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) holding in Geneva, Switzerland, said this is a sure way of stemming the tide of the mass exodus of people being witnessed in the region.

He expressed OATUU's concern regarding the unprecedented level of labour migration in the continent noting that many of the estimated 231.5 million migrants in the world come from Africa.

Addressing the root causes of migration, he said, is a better solution than increased security, harsh measures and even "out sourcing" migrants to other less privileged countries.

"People desperate to migrate cannot be deterred by such tactics. To confirm this, all we need do, is examine the tragedies that occur off the Italian coast of Lampedusa where annually, according to the UNHCR, at least 2,000 would-be migrants perish in its seas. These victims include women and children.

"Also, in order to stem the tide and significantly reduce forced labour, the world has to squarely take on the criminality, and crimes against humanity called human trafficking. This should be checkmated at the sending, transiting and receiving countries," Lakemfa said.

The OATUU spokesperson, who drummed support for the eight components of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)'s future work on fair migration however insisted on the important role to be played by governments in collaboration with social partners on improvement of governance issues in handling migration matters.

Governments, he said should put in place practical and humane national legal framework for labour migration, bilateral agreements and multilateral systems for fair migration.

He also used the opportunity of the forum to appeal to African countries to speed up the regional integration of the continent so as to provide decent jobs, decent living and basic infrastructure.

He also urged the African Union (AU) and all African States to integrate migration into AU 2063 Development Agenda.

This, he said, will in no small way, ensure prosperity and stem the tide of migration.

He pledged that OATUU will continue to promote the speedy implementation of the treaty establishing the African Economic Community and the promotion of intra - African trade in order to ensure prosperity within the continent.

Speaking further, he appealed to governments and employers to to ensure that migrants are guaranteed their trade union and human rights at all times and in all climes.

He equally charged trade unions across the world to organise and unionise migrants workers and ensure that the fundamental and trade union rights of migrants are guaranteed.

"Migration is a reality; we must do all we can to ensure that migrants are guaranteed their trade union and human rights at all times and in all climes. For migrants, there should be fairness in conditions of work, equal pay for equal work and a fair tax policy.

"OATUU appeals to sending countries to be alive to their responsibilities for the protection of the interests and rights of their people both at home and abroad. Permit us to state unequivocally, that all human beings are same; we all deserve respect and should be treated equally without prejudice. This should be more so, in the case of migrants," he said.

He conclude by calling on the ILO to make its reforms at all levels all-inclusive warning that "it will hurt the ILO's long term objectives and endanger its health if some parts of the world behave and carry on as if they are indigenes of the ILO while the vast majority of us are migrants."

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