Thursday, 15 March 2018

Enhancing migrant workers’ access to Complaints Mechanisms is an integral part of the Colombo Process’ efforts for promoting Ethical Recruitment. Complaints lodged by migrant workers enable the Member States to detect violation in the recruitment process and identify areas for improvement within their recruitment monitoring systems whilst facilitating the workers’ access to necessary support and remedies.

Under the leadership of Bangladesh as the Chair of the Colombo Process Thematic Area Working Group (TAWG) on fostering Ethical Recruitment, Senior Officials of the Colombo Process Member States (CPMS) gathered for a one-day regional workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, on 15 March 2018, to discuss good practices as well as possible challenges to migrant workers’ access to Complaints Mechanisms. The workshop based its discussion on the key findings and discussion points that have emerged from the study on “Mapping of Complaints Mechanisms in the Colombo Process countries”, which the International Organization for Migration (IOM) carried out in 2017 and presented as a working document at the workshop.

The workshop was convened back to back with the Colombo Process Third Symposium on “Promoting Regulatory Harmonization of Recruitment Intermediaries in the CPMS” so as to build synergy between the two inter-related areas of the Colombo Process’ work on ethical recruitment, namely “recruitment policies and regulations” and “complaints mechanisms as an integral part of recruitment monitoring”.

In her welcome remarks, Ms. Nasreen Jahan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, Bangladesh, as the TAWG Chair, highlighted the importance of effective complaints mechanisms that can streamline and handle complaints from migrant workers efficiently, which in turn will help facilitate better cooperation between the country of origin (COO) and the country of destination (COD). She encouraged the participants to identify practical solutions to address possible obstacles that may be affecting migrant workers’ access to justice.

Mr. Benil Thevarasa, Head of Migration and Development Unit, Global Programme Migration and Development Office, Embassy of Switzerland to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, representing the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), emphasized the importance of complaints mechanisms in order to maximise the postitive effects and minimize negative consequenses of international labour migration. He stressed that all stakeholders need to come together to identify practical actions to ensure migrant workers’ access to griviance mechanisms.

Ms. Lara White, Senior Labour Migration and Human Development Specialist, IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, stated that IOM is pleased to share the outcome of the mapping exercise, which aimed to provide consolidated information on complaints mechanisms in the CPMS as well as to highlight the initiatives in major destinations and by various stakeholders. She also noted IOM’s appreciation to the CPMS, SDC and partners for generous support and inputs extended to the mapping study and the compilation of the study report.

 

The workshop, which was attended by 52 persons in total, was comprised of interactive plenary and group discussions around the following four themes:

  • Complaints Mechanisms in the CPMS;
  • Initiatives in major destinations for migrant workers from Colombo Process countries;
  • Initiatives to address migrant workers’ grievances by various stakeholders; and,
  • Possible obstacles to migrant workers’ access to Complaints Mechanisms.

The plenary discussions, which were enriched by diverse presentations by the CPMS delegates and resource persons, highlighted that a number of good and innovative practices exist in the CPMS and in major destinations by the governments, often in collaboration with development partners and UN agencies, as well as by civil society organizations and the private sector to make the mechanisms and services to address migrant workers’ grievances effective. The discussion also revealed that certain challenges exist in the current systems and migrant workers’ access to remedies, which was further discussed in group discussions.

Two groups consisting of the CPMS delegates, resource persons and partners, deliberated on possible obstacles to migrant workers’ access to Complaints Mechanisms by categorizing them under two themes related to: i) systems in COOs and CODs; and, ii) knowledge, skills and negotiation power of migrant workers. While reviewing the possible obstacles under each theme, the participants discussed and identified the ways to address such obstacles, good practices and initiatives that already exist in the CPMS to address them.

The workshop ended with a rich compilation of good and innovative practices as well as initiatives and practical ideas for addressing possible obstacles to migrant workers’ access to justice, which will be reflected in the consolidation and finalization of the mapping report.

Ms. Nasreen Jahan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, Bangladesh, as the TAWG Chair concluded the workshop with her closing remarks, thanking the participants for having shared rich and diverse initiatives and actively contributed to the discussion that in turn will help enrich the mapping report as well as facilitate the CPMS’ efforts to enhance complaints mechanisms.

The workshop was convened within the framework of IOM’s Regional Project “Strengthening Labour Migration Governance through Regional Cooperation in the Colombo Process countries” with funding support from SDC.