Over seventy trade union representatives from a number of Global Unions including the Building and Wood Workers’ International met for two days from 9-10 December in Marrakesh, Morocco to strategize, discuss and develop a global strategy to ensure the rights of migrant workers globally. The Forum was taking place in conjunction with a series of meetings related to international migration including the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) and Global Compact for Safe, Order and Regular (GCM).
Although more than 160 countries have signed the GCM, a number of UN Member states have refused to do so citing issues of national sovereignty. In reality, these countries which are headed by right-wing, conservative governments have been influenced by xenophobic elements in their respective countries. One of the results of the Forum was the development of a Global Unions statement condemning the countries that have publicly announced their decision to not sign the Global Compact.
In his opening remarks, Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI and the Chair of the Council of Global Unions Working Group on Migration highlighted the important role trade unions play in advocating for rights-based global governance on international migration.
He stated, “We have seized the opportunity of the events taking place in Marrakesh, the GFMD which concluded its work on Friday, and the Intergovernmental Conference to adopt the GCM, starting tomorrow. The idea of this Forum is to gather together to take stock of where we are on the eve of the adoption of the GCM, on a very important aspect of the Compact, namely
He continued, “We want to both take stock of where we are, and to strategize about moving forward in our work to support migrant workers and their families to have their rights respected, to gain sustainable livelihoods, and to live in dignity.”
A key outcome of the Forum was the development a global framework entitled, the CGU Morocco Migration Manifesto, calling on trade unions to commit to a global campaign that would focus on a number of areas including organizing migrant workers in trade unions; negotiating for decent work, living wage, access to social protection and quality public services, and equal treatment; campaign for fair recruitment and rights-based pathways for labour migration; lobby for ratification of international standards; and mobilize against racism and xenophobia.
The Manifesto will be further developed with a complementary work plan that will be presented to the Council of Global Unions which is slated to meet in February 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.