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EU, ILO and IOM join forces to promote ethical recruitment

Although the awareness of ethical recruitment is increasing, many migrants continue to be exposed to the risk of being lured into exploitative employment by unscrupulous brokers. The result can be tragic, ranging from various degrees of indebtedness to the risk of being trafficked. International migration has become a multi-layered process, involving many actors in sending and receiving countries. The global imbalances between source and destination countries create a dynamic where often case migrants are forced to accept migratory conditions that are below internationally recognized standards. Inadequate regulations add to the situation.

The ILO through its Decent Work across Borders Project supported with a EURO 2 million grant from the European Union - and the IOM - through a EURO 1.5 million European Union grant in support of the Strengthening Labour Migration Capacities Project - will bring together government and private recruitment industry representatives from the Colombo Process member states, namely from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam along. Various other migration experts will contribute to bringing into light models and tools in view of the enhancement of ethical recruitment practices.

Delegates from these 11 countries will discuss issues, practices and challenges on ethical recruitment including steps to strengthen national industry associations. The dialogue will be held under the auspices of the 2nd Regional Conference of the Alliance of Asian Associations of Overseas Employment Service Providers (AAA-OESP). The first such regional meeting was organized by the IOM, in 2008.

The Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines said that "illegal recruitment and unethical recruitment are some of the most urgent issues that need to be addressed not only by government but by the private sector as well". Hence, "the EU welcomes the creation of an Asia-wide alliance of overseas employment service providers (AAA-OESP) and looks forward to the signing of the Commitment to Action on Ethical Recruitment which should contribute to migrants' safe and humane migration."

Along with government, the private sector has been increasingly providing service to employers and workers, by bridging the demand and offer of labour across borders. The International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies (CIETT) reported that, in 2011, there were 12.4 million agency workers, recruited nationally and internationally, in full-time equivalents across the globe. “CIETT and its members in Asia are committed to contribute to decent employment and fight malpractices on the labour market, in the knowledge that well-regulated private employment services both meet the enterprises’ need for flexibility and the need of employees for secure working conditions” said Steve Shepherd from CIETT, the authoritative voice representing the interests of the agency work industry.

 On its part, the IOM, through its Chief of Mission in Manila, Marco Boasso states that “the role of recruitment agencies to match jobs with skills and to address the mutual needs between employers and workers as well as between origin and destination countries is strategic. As individuals, households, industries and economies rely on the economic gain that can be facilitated by recruitment, it is therefore important to ensure integrity in international recruitment system”.

A representative signatory to the 2008 Commitment to Action on Ethical Recruitment, Mr. Rene Cristobal from the Philippines strongly recommends “for international organizations to support a continuing platform for dialogue among all stakeholders in the recruitment industry”.  He says “the responsible practitioners in the recruitment industry in Asia must take leadership to spread their good practices and deepen the cooperation between and among their constituencies.”

“Recruitment is a complex system. There is a need for multi-stakeholders and multilateral approaches to improving the governance of migration. It is in the best interest of the recruitment sector to document, adopt, comply with and monitor ethical recruitment practices. Industry initiatives are a complement to the essential role of government in the regulation of the industry and the promotion of a level playing field where recruitment agencies can operate under the same set of regulations and not to be undercut by the practices of unscrupulous or unauthorized intermediaries,” said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

The efficiency of the migration governance system pleads for an international policy framework and associated industry associations at national, regional and international levels in views of the promotion of decent work for migrants.


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