Today, 18 December, marks International Migrant’s Day. It is an occasion to celebrate the contributions of migrants, to support and work with them in fighting for their rights, and to try to ensure that all stages of migration, from departure to final destination, can be lived in dignity.
The BWI shares the view that migration can be positive for both countries of origin and destination. However, that is not automatically the case. Far too many migrants are not leaving their homelands by choice. They are forced to go by developments beyond their control, including armed conflict, other forms of violence, repression, discrimination, extreme poverty, and climate change.
The BWI, in its work with migrant workers and on global policy issues, focuses on rights. One important right that is not respected is the right to stay home. Governments and the global community need to begin including, in their policies on migration, the right to stay home. That means being responsible and acting before massive flows of migration.
Economies are dependent on migrant workers, whether they come and stay permanently or for a limited time. In the sectors that BWI represent, in many countries, our industry would shut down if it were not for migrant workers. That is true for many other sectors as well.
As migrants have become an essential part of our economies, something that will continue despite irresponsible politicians with their attacks of fear and hate, respect for their rights in their new homelands central. It is not only for their protection, but also to ensure that the rights of workers in the countries of destination cannot be undermined by the abuse and exploitation of migrant workers by employers, employment agencies, and governments.
Despite the contributions of migrants, they face consistent discrimination and face exploitation from bad employers. In addition, they often vilified by xenophobic and conservative political parties. Attacks on migrants have been one of the major levers for bringing the Extreme Right to power. It is important that trade unions are in the forefront to ensure the promotion of the rights of migrants and stop attacks against migrants.
On this important day of recognition, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson emphasised that, “Migrant workers contribute to our industries, but also to BWIs work. They contribute, not separately, but together with other workers advancing all our priorities far beyond our sports campaign, including developing and carrying out successful strategies for worker rights, collective bargaining, and social justice.”