The Disappointing Truth Behind Migrant Labor

As of 2017, it has been estimated that approximately 240 million global migrant workers are working to send home around $466 billion to their families on an annual basis.

While it seems admirable that these migrant workers have moved away from home in an effort to support their families with better qualities of life, the reality of the conditions in which they frequently find themselves working can be very concerning. Most of the migrant workers have to deal with violations of their human rights such as exploitation, abuse, denial of rights and victimization that resembles the work of modern day slaves. It is incumbent upon organizations hiring migrant workers to treat them respectfully and as fully capable employees.

There is also an issue of job misrepresentation for migrant workers. Cases in Africa have shown how migrant workers are attracted to jobs and given positions, only to then be turned into pawns in large scale human trafficking operations. This issue is of global importance as more and more individuals put themselves and their children at risk when they are simply just trying to get decent employment.

Globally, many companies and governments have now begun to provide migrant workers with a standard level of employment and human rights. A number of developed nations are operating together to generate a set of harmonized laws that would govern more regions in regard to international labor. Additionally, with increased levels of policing and monitoring, authorities are optimistic that migrant workers will have less potential of falling victim to poor working conditions.

Countries such as Morocco have passed laws for domestic workers, for example, to ensure they receive contracts when they are hired for a job, are guaranteed at least a minimum wage, a reasonable amount of days off work, and a maximum number of hours that can be worked within one pay period. More countries are being encouraged to develop these standards to ensure the protection of migrant workers’ overall human rights, as well as their health and safety while working away from home.

We are also now seeing countries such as Qatar and Bahrain create legal protection centers where abused migrant workers can seek legal advice and sanctuary in a time of need. Knowing that there are organizations helping with watching and caring for migrant workers is expected to affect how employers treat all of their employees in the future, regardless of whether they are domestic or international workers.

The International Labour Organization has described the developing changes for migrant workers in their 2018 annual report. The ILO is leading with an assumption that if more, corrective policies are in place, then global migration may help different countries respond to shifts in their ever-changing labour supply and demand. These policies may also help to stimulate more innovation within countries and organizations as well as help create opportunities for sustainable and transferable skills for migrant workers.

It is up to the national governments of countries employing global workers to ensure that policies are updated and mandated in order to support the overall human rights of migrant workers, while supporting those organizations hiring migrant workers within their borders. With more emphasis on providing migrant workers with respect and care within their workplace, more policies and protection may be able to reduce the negative effects of working as a migrant.

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