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ITUC seeks new social contract for migrants

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja
21 December 2021   |   2:22 am
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called on governments around the world to provide a new social contract for migrants.

ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called on governments around the world to provide a new social contract for migrants.
The global workers union urged governments to ratify and implement the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families (1990) as encapsulated in the International Labour Organisation’s conventions 97 and 143 and Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors to ensure the extension of social protection security to all members of society, irrespective of contribution history.
The ITUC noted that freedom of movement and access to social protection are both internationally recognised human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international legal instruments.

It noted that the world has witnessed an increase in migration in recent years. Indeed, in 2019, according to the UN, some 270 million people, or around 3.5% of the world’s population, were migrants.
“Migrants are disproportionately excluded from access to social protection, and at the same time more likely to be concentrated in low-paid, precarious and informal work, leaving them especially exposed to poverty, social exclusion and social insecurity,” it said.
It insisted that social protection is a universal human right, providing people with security against poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion, saying it is a catalyst for inclusive economic growth.
“Despite numerous international commitments to extend social protection, nearly half of the world’s population lack any access to these critical benefits and services, and coverage gaps are especially acute in low and middle-income countries.
“Migrants are disproportionately excluded from social protection schemes, and their economic vulnerability is compounded by their underrepresentation in the labour market, concentration in precarious and low-paid work, discriminatory laws and entrenched xenophobia,” the union stated.
ITUC maintained that legal exclusions to accessing social protection benefits, insufficient build-up of social security contributions within destination countries, lack of possibilities to preserve or transfer social security contributions within destination countries, practical barriers to accessing benefits, and migrant’s labour market exclusion are some of the main reasons for their lack of access.
“Increased globalization, conflict, demographic change and climate change – and the resulting migration due to these trends – all raise concerns about how to better address migrants’ vulnerability,” it said.
The union said its brief, ‘ITUC economic briefing – Ensuring migrants’ access to social protection’, examines the reasons for migrants’ exclusion from social protection systems and reviews some ways for closing these coverage gaps.
The 14- page brief outlines existing international frameworks related to migration and social protection, as well as provides some selected good practices at the national level. It also sets out unions’ key demands for ensuring universal social protection systems that are inclusive of migrants.

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