The Construction and Building Materials Industry Workers’ Union of Ukraine (PROFBUD) hosted the second annual sub-regional conference on migrant workers’ rights on 19th of August 2019. This year the topic was “Migrant workers’ rights in countries of the Eastern Partnership: Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova. Migrant workers’ in the informal sector of the European Union.”
The conference brought together trade union leaders from Ukraine and Belarus, while leaders from Moldova and Georgia joint the conference debates by skype. Representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) participated as guest speakers.
The conference was formatted as an open dialogue amongst trade unions, government officials and employers. The government was represented by Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, State Employment Service of Ukraine, National Mediation and Conciliation Service of Ukraine, and employers were represented by Confederation of Builders of Ukraine and National Expert Building Alliance of Ukraine.
The different research studies that were presented showed that the main reason for migration within the Eastern Partnership countries are low wages and poor working conditions in the countries of origin. The research conducted by the IOM office in Ukraine identified that 12 percent of Ukrainians are migrant workers or potential migrant workers and 21percent of migrant workers are ready to work illegally in the European Union countries without work permit.
“Around two million Ukrainians work abroad and too many of them are employed unofficially,” stated Vasyl Andreyev, PROFBUD president. He continued, “The construction sector is one of leading sectors in terms of labour migration. During this Conference we saw that in Belarus, Georgia and Moldova situation with labour migration is quite similar. As trade unions we should ensure that workers have decent wages and jobs so that they are not forced to migrate for work. We need to make governments and employers understand that wage increase is not only matter of workers well-being, but it is essential to secure labour market and guarantee economic growth.”