Migrant workers' rights

Trade union-led Migrant Worker Resource Centres in ASEAN and Jordan: Case studies for protecting and organizing migrant workers

This paper features good approaches and innovations by trade union MRCs in five Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia and Thailand) as well as in Jordan. It highlights how the MRCs are useful and effective avenues in protecting the rights of migrant workers and eventually helping trade unions to organize them. The examples introduced in this paper can be replicated by trade unions that intend to launch campaigns to organize migrant workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic crises have aggravated migrant workers’ vulnerabilities. The ILO supports Migrant Worker Resource Centres (MRCs) to protect the rights of migrant workers, regardless of their migration status, to promote safe migration and to harness the benefits of migration. With the ILO assistance, trade unions in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand are operating MRCs that offer various services, including counselling, legal aid, information, education, networking, training and trade union membership. Some MRCs use training and cultural activities to inform migrant workers about rights issues. Other MRCs serve as an entry point to organize migrant workers and leverage the opportunity to provide legal and social protection. This paper looks at the operational practices of trade union MRCs, including one in Amman, Jordan that was established by a joint initiative between the ASEAN Trade Union Council, the South Asian Regional Union Council and the Arab Trade Union Confederation. This paper seeks to encourage other trade unions in replicating these activities as a way to reach out to migrant workers with useful services.