The National Workers Congress (NWC), which works for the benefit of SL migrant workers, says the overseas employment programme of Sri Lanka should be pro-active, value based and very much a part of an overall national employment strategy.
It should respond to labour market needs within the country and abroad.
The statement said the Migrant Services Centre (MSC), the social arm of the National Workers Congress, has taken the initiative to mobilize workers into a social movement to form Migrant Worker Associations (MWAs) to offer services to the migrant community. There are 27 MWAs established in high density migrant locations providing necessary assistance to returnee and potential migrants and their families.
The NWC has entered into 3 MOUs with trade unions in the Gulf countries for protection and welfare of the Sri Lankan migrant workers. These trade union agreements also, seek to extend trade union protection to migrant workers, ensure cooperation and coordination of activities between trade unions in Sri Lanka and the three receiving countries. “We also raise awareness in both countries on benefits of labour migration and implementation of specific measures to address migrants occupational health and safety with their rights for organization and collective bargaining,” the statement said.
The NWC says as a trade union it has been advocating for domestic workers to be recognized and given protection in Sri Lanka and abroad. “This is necessary if we are to ask foreign governments to show respect for our domestic workers. This effort is a strong commitment on our Decent Work Agenda. We are also, associated with the National Labour Migration Policy of Sri Lanka and encourage Sri Lankan’s skilled, semi skilled professional to undertake migration,” it said.
In the statement released to mark International Migrants Day on December 18, the NWC/MSC said it was seeking the immediate implementation of the National Policy for Migrant Workers adopted in 2009 by amending the existing law on migration, benefiting these workers who are the second most contributors to the national economy.
Sri Lanka is among the 20 main countries that export labour for employment and at present the annual flow of migrant labour from Sri Lanka is approximately 250,000 persons, with a total migrant population of over 1.8 million.
At a December 18 ceremony at the MSC at Dehiwela to mark International Migrants Day, Markus Baechler, Country Director, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), said his organisation has for the past year been involved in the Global Migration Programme.
He said in Sri Lanka, the SDC will support and implement a migration project with the purpose of strengthening the protection and well-being of labour migrants for foreign employment and their families in Sri Lanka. The project will have two components: one component which will be implemented by International Labour Organization (ILO) and will mainly support the Government to implement the National Labour Migration Policy and the second component will be implemented by the Swiss NGO Helvetas where the Migrant Service Centre will function as a key partner. The project will empower migrant workers and their families.
He said in this project ILO will closely work with the Government to strengthen the policy, legal and institutional processes. Also ILO will work towards improving the training of prospective migrant workers as well as improving efficiency and effectiveness of regulatory, protection and grievance handling mechanisms.