ILO, ITUC-Africa, NLC, others unite to defend rights of African migrant workers 


By Michael Oche 

In Abuja, at the ongoing meeting of the African Trade Union Network on Migration (ATUMNET), which kicked off on Wednesday, trade unions in Africa as well as other social partners including the ILO, IOM, Solidarity Centre have resolved to build stronger partnership in a bid to ensure that the rights of African workers who migrate outside the continent are protected.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 3-day workshop of ATUMNET in Abuja, the various stakeholders reiterated the need to unite in the quite to improve fair migration.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) General Secretary, Comrade Emma Ugboaja while declaring the workshop opened, said the Congress has affirmed that fair migration and responsive governance are some of the ways to tame hazards of migration, poverty and inequality. 

He said the NLC has resolved to be committed to any effort and all activities that will promote better migration governance. 

“There is no better way to do this than to actively participate and collaborate, as well as strengthen the alliance between workers and the ‘other’ stakeholders in the workplace and society in general in ways to continue to enrich the call for fair migration,” he said.

Ugboaja expressed confidence that discussion at the workshop will also deepen trade union capacities on how to ensure better support for Migrant workers and members of their families that are still living with the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said, “As NLC, we shall continue to support all actors, especially critical stakeholders in the world of work in their several positive and pragmatic initiatives deployed to assist migrants, migrant workers and members of their families and communities to cope with the effects of the global pandemic. 

“We shall also continue to contribute to efforts to defeat fragilities and build resilience and stability to counter forced mobility.”

The NLC scribe further expressed happiness the meeting seeks to devise ways and means to further the commitments made from the recently concluded first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) 2022. 

He said further, “We reassure you of our commitment, readiness and availability in the struggle for the defence of the collective interests of workers, our communities and the future of our countries and continent”.

In her remarks, the ILO representative, Iviolata Chinyangarara said the meeting is very important as it serves as a catalyst for promoting cooperation and ongoing dialogue and strategic interventions trade unions and other stakeholders in addressing migrant workers and members of their families that are still confronted with, notably the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She went further to highlight some of the ILO development cooperation projects that are facilitating the realisation of the ATUMNET goals and strategies within Continent.

She listed the ILO FairWay project as well as ILO Initiative for Labour Migration, Employment and Reintegration in Nigeria and Ghana as some of the Organisation’s strategies aimed at promoting fair and effective labour migration.

The National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) also pledged to continue to work with trade unions and other relevant stakeholders towards achieving safe, Orderly and regular migration.

The Federal Commissioner of NCFRMI who was represented by the acting director, Bello Mohammed Bello, “For us in Nigeria, we can easily relate with this commendable effort. This is because Nigeria has a well-defined migration governance structure which this structure already keys into. The National Migration Policy (NMP) provides a decentralized migration governance structure with a Technical Working Group (TWG) on Migration and Development. 

“The TWG is chaired by the NCFRMI and brings together stakeholders across various fields of migration for the purposes of coordination, complementarity and effectiveness.”

He also said as countries make progress in recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, the lessons of its impact must not be lost on us, one of which is the fact that Covid 19 has disproportionately affected migrants.