The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for better migration governance to support returning and reintegration of migrant workers in the midst of COVID-19 in the country.
Mr Bello Ismail, the NLC Acting General Secretary said this while declaring open a two-day training workshop organised for Labour Correspondents Association of Nigeria (LACAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
The workshop was organised by the NLC in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with the theme: “Labour Migration Trend in the mist of COVID-19 Pandemic, Return and Reintegration of Returnee Migrants’’.
Ismail said the training was to build a synergy with the media in reporting migration issues such as forced labour and fair recruitment.
He said that migration had remained a major issue of concern across the continent and migrants’ workers were most vulnerable in the midst of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ismail, first, there are a lot of constraints facing workers in their movement.
“There are also a lot of constraints facing them wherever they may be, whether in their country of origin, or the countries they are migrating to.
“So, our commitment is to work with our partners, the ILO and other stakeholders to ensure that wherever the worker may be, the worker finds that place a conducive place to walk and live.
“That’s why we were happy that the ILO is supporting this initiative, and we know that there’s nothing we can do without our colleagues from the media who help us propagate some of the ideas around global migration governance.
“That is, doing things right, ensuring that the working people wherever they may be are covered by the rights that govern every worker.
“So whether you’re in Nigeria or you find yourself in South Africa or Saudi Arabia or any other part of the world, you should be treated the same way a worker will be treated in those countries,.
“I think that’s the demand of this whole essence, which is a migration governance, that takes care of welcoming people wherever they came from that they do will not suffer discrimination,” he said.
He said that the framework of migration governance would ensure the dignity of workers, removal of poor payment, harassment and intimidation of migrant workers.
He, however, said that the NLC was working with its affiliates and other partners to achieve it.
Mr James Eustace, the NLC Migration Officer, said that the training was to ensure that ideas were shared on the best way to tackle the recurring challenges of returning migrants, especially in the period of the COVID-19.
He said that the training would go a long way toward affording the media the opportunity to appreciate the present challenges of migrants.
“This is especially as it concerns what labour migrants are facing as well as looking into the future on the reportage of the issues surrounding migration or slave labour.
“We discovered that the reportage of migration issues has not been encouraging and again biased against the migrant worker.
“This is terms of protection of the human and labour rights of the migrant worker is not given attention in the media.
“We believe that the media, especially labour correspondents need to be carried along in all our activities because we believe that it is through them that what we are doing will be show cased to the world,’’he said.
He said that migration, especially in terms of abuse of the migration worker has been in the global space for a long time.
He said that the irregular migration of Africans, especially Nigerians to the countries of the Gulf had been on the increase.
“Yet, there is little that is being done to ensure that regular pathways are being promoted and provided for migrants to migrate.
`As trade union, labour migration is a core trade union issue that cannot just be left to other actors without playing dominant role, ’’he said.
“So the training basically is to increase on reportage of trade union activities on migration issues and effective advocacy for protection of migrant worker rights, reintegration of returnees migrant workers through the media space,’’ he said.
Dr Emeka Obiezu, ILO Consultant on Development of Toolkit for Media Reportage on Forced Labour and Fair Recruitment, described a labour migrant as anybody who left the shores of his country to another country for the purpose of finding a job.
Obiezu, while quoting a 2021 ILO Report, noted that there were 169 million migrant workers accounting for 59 per cent of the world’s international migration population of 281million.
He said there was also an estimated 24.9 million people in forced labour around the world.
He noted that according to African Development Bank (AfDB) Report of 2014, the bulk remittance in the continents economy came within Africa itself.
He said the report showed that migration on its own contributed immensely to the development of both the country of origin and the country of residence.
Also LACAN Chairman, Mr Michael Oche, commended the NLC and the ILO for organising the training.
Oche said that the training would provide members with better understanding of the issues surrounding labour migration.
He called on beneficiaries of the training to imbibe the knowledge they had garnered in their writing and reportage.
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