Experts for Making Post COVID Recruitment System Transparent

Global migration experts, civil society leaders and migrant rights activists on Thursday emphasized the need for taking necessary steps by the authorities concerned at home and host countries to make recruitment of the migrant workers more transparent and ensure lower cost overseas employment in the post COVID-19 situation.

They made their remarks while speaking at a virtual event on ‘Advancing the Recruitment Reform Agenda Post COVID-19’ which was jointly organized by the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The webinar aimed to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the recruitment of migrant workers and provide a venue to discuss how to build back better post COVID-19 in line with advancing the recruitment reform agenda.

The distinguished speakers said that thousands of migrant workers have been the worst victims of the global COVID pandemic and they have been frequently forced to returns at home empty-handed from the destination countries.

They stressed the need to collect comprehensive evidences and documentations of returnee or deported migrants for the unpaid wages as well as left behind assets by the returnee migrants so that they could get the compensations through transitional justice system.

The experts suggested that international agencies and CSOs should work in partnership with concerned governments to resolve the issues of recruitment and other crucial issues of migrants rights.

As speaker,  Dr. CR Abrar, Refugee and Migratory Movements Unit (RMMRU) said that existing kafala system in the Arab countries should be changed to protect the migrant workers in general and the women migrants in particular as they were in vulnerable conditions.

All stakeholders including the recruitment agencies and regulating authorities should work together to make the recruitment system more transparent, he suggested.

In Bangladesh, CR Abrar, also professor of International Relations at Dhaka University, said that subagents should be recognized by the prevailing law of lands to cut the recruitment cost and make the system more migrant friendly.

Among others, Raquel E. Bracero, President, Board of Directors, Philippine Association of Service Exporters, Inc., Kumar Prasad Dahal, Director GeneralDepartment of Foreign Employment, Nepal, Maximillian Pottler, IOM CREST project manager, Aditi Wanchoo and Akkaphan Rammanee(Jib), Adidas Senior Managers also spoke.

Noted migration expert Alex Au, also represented Singapore based NGO TWC2 moderated the session.

According to MFA concept note, in the current global recruitment model, migrant workers pay exorbitant recruitment fees to secure low paying jobs. As a result, migrant workers typically remain indebted for as much as a year or two before they are able to earn a living wage enabling them to sustain themselves and their families.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an abrupt end to the deployment and employment of millions of migrant workers across the globe, many of which are indebted to agents, subagents, family members or small lenders back home.

“If there is one thing that we could learn from this crisis, it is that we must bring an end to the current situation of exploitative practices and move towards an ‘employer- pays’ model of recruitment,’ the MFA noted.

The pandemic has opened up an opportunity to move the recruitment reform agenda forward to build back better towards fair and ethical recruitment practices.

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