Migrant workers amplify voices online


Amidst a pandemic that has negatively impacted migrant workers around the world, BWI organised a global webinar on 8 July to deliberate their struggles and issues. The online event titled “Empowering Migrant Voices” was attended by more than 130 participants comprised of migrant workers, trade union leaders and representatives from organisations working on the issue of international migration.

The webinar listened to the input of five migrant workers from Qatar (COVID-19 survivor), Sabah, Croatia and the United States, who were all invited to share their experiences and perspectives on the socio-economic impact of the pandemic to migrant workers worldwide. 

Experts and international practitioners on human and trade union rights were also asked to share their insights on the global policy proposals and recommendations needed to strengthen protection of migrant workers’ rights. In particular, representatives from the ILO Regional Office for Arab States, and UN Network on Migration, as well as a European Parliamentarian led the discussions on the necessity of a “new social contract” on labour migration.

BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson, who moderated the webinar, said that the online event is one of the global union’s many initiatives to persuade the international community to take a hard look on the current situation of migrant workers and the issues they face amidst the pandemic. He said that the online discussion was the first among a series of webinars with the objective to amplify workers’ voices on various topics, such as occupational health and safety, gender equality, forestry, MNCs, wages and protection and social justice. 

The webinar commenced with a short video showing the struggles and victories of migrant workers in South Asia against COVID-19. BWI also presented its COVID-19 declaration which it says is an inclusive and equitable road to recovery for jobs and industries in construction, building materials, wood and forestry sectors that contribute to a socially and ecologically sustainable future.