ICC, IOM launch guidance for the protection of migrants during pandemic

Burmese migrants work on fishing boats and in coastal communities in Phang Nga, southern Thailand. (Source @IOM)

New Delhi (NVI): As migrants continue to be on the front lines of the collective response to COVID-19, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) are releasing new employer guidance for measures to protect them during pandemic.

According to IOM, migrant workers are a crucial part of the global workforce, accounting for 3.5 per cent of the world’s population.

Worldwide, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, rely on them, including sectors providing essential commodities and services, as well as industries hard-hit by COVID-19, it added.

Marina Manke, Head of the IOM Labour Mobility and Human Development Division, said that, migrants are not only working as “doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, but as the agricultural, transport and retail workers that keep our cities and towns functioning.”

Moreover, as the economic and human consequences of coronavirus continue to impact local communities, businesses can play a decisive role in addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant workers, the IOM said.

They are susceptible to job loss, salary cuts, and various health and safety concerns, migrant workers often are far away from family support networks, can face clear language or cultural barriers and often lack social protection. Many also suffer from discrimination.

Meanwhile, overseas economies that rely on financial contributions from migrant workers, especially low- and middle-income countries are facing a steep decline in cross-border remittances.

Therefore, to address the specific challenges migrant workers face during pandemic, IOM and ICC published a set of employer guidelines highlighting the role of the private sector, the advice includes a set of general principles, such as treating all workers with “equality, dignity, and respect”– regardless of gender or migratory status.

The guidence is presented in the five categories of physical and mental health; living and working conditions; economic support; ethical recruitment; and supply chain transparency.

Manke also said, “Employers are in a unique position to ensure full protection for these workers both at the workplace and in their communities of operation and supply chains. We hope this guide will serve them well.”

However, the ICC-IOM guidance document has been adapted from the IOM’s COVID-19 guidance for employers and business to enhance migrant worker protection during the current health crisis and complements other ICC recommendations on health and safety measures for employees.