By Tichaona Kurewa
THE government has pledged to integrate human rights and human-centred approaches to labour migration and governance in the country.
The High-Level Tripartite Dialogue for Southern Africa officially opened this Wednesday, with Vice President General Retired Dr Constantino Chiwenga highlighting the importance of migrant workers in the economic development of the region.
“It is essential to note that the core principle of the 2030 Agenda is to leave no one and no place behind including migrants. I, therefore, implore you all to promote and integrate human rights and human-centred approaches to labour migration and governance. The approach must be deployed to ensure immense economic benefits, sustained growth and across the region as well as countries of origin and destination.
“It is important to note that while migration has boundless economic spinoffs, if not well managed, it can have grave negative outcomes. The paradoxes of migration include disempowerment, exploitative working conditions, and forced labour; human trafficking and exclusion are some of the pitfalls that labour migrants encounter, particularly women and girls,” he said.
The International Labour Organisation called for sound labour migration governance.
“For Africa to reap the benefits of labour migration Member States should ensure effective labour migration governance. Maximizing the benefits of labour migration and minimizing the risks and social costs require sound and effective labour migration governance,” said International Labour Organisation representative, Joni Musabayana.
Employers and labour representatives stressed the importance of upholding the rights of migrants.
“Labour migration raises several issues for trade unions or workers’ organisations. Amongst others, we are concerned about the treatment and protection of the human and labour rights of migrant workers, and the prevention of unfair competition, mainly in terms of wages and other working conditions.
“For example, the huge disparities in (working hours, wages, leave entitlements, occupational safety and health protection, social protection coverage,) with national workers and what each of these issues implies for the roles and functions of workers’ organisations at different levels worries us a lot. This is the reason why trade unions strongly advocate for the principles of equal treatment and opportunities between migrant workers and national workers as provided for in ILO Conventions,” said Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council Representative, Mavis Koogotsitse.
“Labour migration governance is one of the priority areas of employers in the region as Labour migration is an important enabler and beneficiary of regional integration and economic development in Africa. SPSF working with its social partners is clearly committed to strengthening the efficiency of the institutions of work to ensure adequate protection of all workers through promoting fair and effective labour migration governance among others,” said SADC Private Sector Forum representative, Harrington Chibanda.
Statistics show that there are about 7.87 million international migrants in Southern Africa and 3.6 million from the region.