July 30-31 2009, Grande Sukhumvit Hotel, Bangkok,Thailand
The Thai government(vide the Ministry of Labour), the chair of the committee on the implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers (ACMW), convened the forum whose purpose was being an open platform for discussion and exchanging of views and ideas amongst the different stakeholders on the labour migration issue. The recommendations and suggestions from this forum will be communicated to the ACMW as inputs for consideration. The ACMW has appointed and designated a drafting committee from within its ranks to draft the regional instrument. This drafting committee is made up of 2 sending and 2 receiving countries.(I.e. Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand)
The Forum was officially opened by H.E. Phaithoon Kaeothong, Minister of Labour of Thailand.
Presentation by Ms Thetis (ILO) on the ASEAN Migration: An Overview. It covered also the issue of irregular migration, which was perceived as one of the challenges.
In the afternoon, there were two parallel Sessions
Panel one: ASEAN Stakeholders: what should be their role? By MAP Foundation (By Jackie Pollock) and UNI-Apro( Christopher Ng )
Panel two: The regional instrument: How to move forward? By Task Force on ASEAN Migrant workers (Sammy)
After the speaker presentations, there was group work, and the outcome of group sessions were reported the morning of second day
Highlights of issue and process:
In both panel discussions, CSO managed to get the raise the issue that undocumented migrants should be covered by the final Instrument.
In panel one, we said to cover all migrants irrespective of legal status (i.e. referring also to the ASEAN member states’ commitment as per the 1999 Bangkok Declaration on irregular migration). In panel one; they were representatives of Ministry of labour from Indonesia, Philippines, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Malaysia. In panel two, it was suggested that the Instrument covers all migrant workers, and this would naturally include their families. It should cover all migrants, regardless of immigration status, and regardless of place of origin.
In the plenary discussions of second day:
· Migrant workers and their families as well as their organizations and communities are main stakeholders and need the recognition of they are part of CSO. It sparked the objection from Ministry of Human resources from Malaysia since they are not agreeable that migrants are part of civil society.The discussion went on to suggest that we should refer to and be consistent with the ASEAN Declaration 2007, ASEAN GATS, ASEAN Charter and other ASEAN instruments.
· Also other countries who are signatories to IMWC (1990) stated that the convention is clear as to who is covered, and the ASEAN Instrument must be in line with this UN Convention. The ASEAN Instrument must include families, but since it is expected to be subject to current national law and policies. The inclusion of families is really a matter for future lobbying for the harmonization of the ASEAN Instrument with national laws.
Mekong Migration Network (MMN) addressed the issue of equality of person before the law, as reflected in Malaysia’s Federal Constitution, and the challenges of state on which law they will use to interpret when it comes to labour migration.
The Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia (NAMM) addressed issue of restrictive conditions on work permits and the current discrimination between different type/classes of migrant workers in Malaysia. In Malaysia, whilst certain categories of migrant workers not only cannot bring their families with them, cannot event marry whilst they are in Malaysia under work permits – there are other migrant workers where these restrictions do not apply? Clearly a case of discrimination – contrary to Malaysian Constitution.
Gender: Forum have consensus on importance of the gender aspect of migration and in particular the need for the recognition women’s work as work otherwise it will be continued to be seen as a women’s duty and thus not protected by labour laws.
Standard contract: Malaysian Trade union congress (MTUC) addressed issue of concerns on sign the standard contract which will not be enforceable in country of destination.[This, it matters not where a contract has been entered for it to be enforceable in any country] NAMM provided comments on the Importance that standard agreements do not prevent workers from enjoying better rights that may already exist in national laws, and in collective agreements between employers and trade unions.
The meeting also purposes that the final instrument be legally binding.
The drafting committee was also urged to consider and use the proposals & recommendations from ASEAN Task Force on Migrant Workers, which is a result of numerous national and regional consultations.
The proposed regional instrument should also meet the fundamental human rights and labour standards, as is contained in UN and ILO conventions.
There was also the proposal to set up a Sub-Commission for Migrant Workers (SCMW) under the ASEAN Inter-Government Commission for Human Rights (AIGCHR).
Mekong Migration Network (MMN) representative addressed and requested the clarification on the process of involvement of CSO in 3rd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor (suggested to the host country – Vietnam).
We stated that we appreciated that the Thai government invited CSO personalities to be resource persons on the panel, and CSO as participants in this Forum and we hope this will also be case for the next meeting in Vietnam. ASEAN secretariat representative openly agreed with this, but stated that it was up to the host country to determine the lists of invitees and ILO suggested making the recommendations from this forum.
2nd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour
Bangkok, 30-31 July 2009
An ASEAN forum currently taking place in Bangkok is expected to come up with a set of recommendations on regional migrant labour issues including on how to proceed further with the ASEAN instrument on migrant workers.
The 2nd ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour bring together governmental agencies, civil society organisations from all over Southeast Asia, and international organisations including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Hosted by the Ministry of Labour of Thailand, the Forum is a regular activity under the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) and aims to be a platform for broad-based discussions on migrant labour issues.
With the theme “ASEAN Declaration on Migrant Workers: Achieving its Commitment”, the Forum was officially opened by H.E. Phaithoon Kaeothong, Minister of Labour of Thailand.
Various guest speakers will share their views and discuss the roles of different stakeholders in ASEAN and moving forward on the ASEAN instrument.
The Forum will come up with a set of recommendations to be presented at the 2nd Meeting of the ACMW to be held in September 2009.
Posted on 31 Jul 2009