The role of Nepalese Trade Unions in the fight against HIV/AIDS among the migrant workers

Article | 01 August 2008


Nepal - August 2008

Issues

Studies suggest that migrant workers in Nepal are more vulnerable to acquiring sexually transmitted diseases as well as HIV infection. By extension, the wives of migrant workers are at a high risk of acquiring the virus.

Description

In collaboration with the ILO, the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) with other two National Centres (GEFONT and DECONT) has been actively involved in providing pre-departure orientation to Nepali migrant workers. The information sessions and packages include HIV risk reduction messages and information on available HIV services in the arrival destination. Returning migrants and their families have been also benefiting from this programme which has established linkages to make services available in their respective districts. The programme thus has created a mechanism of coordination and referral to provide social and health services in Nepal and in other destination countries through the networks which can be reached through the National Centres.

Lessons Learned

GEFONT, DECONT and the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) have an extensive grassroots presence in the urban as well as rural areas as well as in the formal and informal sectors of the Nepalese economy. Historically, trade unions have played a major role in the Nepalese civil society and have gained the trust of workers. The partnership of the unions with the ILO through the HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme has established them as trusted leaders in the protection of workers from the threat of HIV.

Next Steps

Trade unions should continue to be strong advocates of HIV as a workplace issue in the formal as well as the informal and migrant-driven economy, and they should expand their role in protecting the workers even beyond national borders.

Arun Timilsina, Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC), National Coordinator, Youth and HIV/AIDS Department, Kathmandu, Nepal

Archana Singh, National Project Coordinator, ILO HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme, Nepal

For more information, please contact Ms Malati Maskey, current National Project Coordinator, ILO HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme, Nepal, visitor1ktm@ilo.org