China-EU Labour Mobility & Protection Workshop

Scope and potential of China-EU labour mobility and protection of migrant workers’ rights explored among Chinese policy makers and practitioners at ILO workshop in Nanjing

The workshop drew on the studies conducted under the Support to EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Project and other ILO initiatives covering China-EU Labour Migration Scope and Potential, Recruitment Costs, Complaint Mechanism Assessment, and Attracting and Retaining Foreign Skilled Workers in China. The workshop provided an exchange platform for participants from relevant government departments, private sector and civil society to interact with international and national experts and practitioners on labour migration manage-ment and relevant issues. A regional and sectoral focus demonstrated the good practices and potential for enhanced China-EU labour migration and move-ments. Evidence-based policy advice was provided to China and EU authorities to further improve migration management and maximize the development out-come for all parties concerned.

News | Beijing, China | 24 November 2016
A workshop on China-EU Labour Migration: Scope and potential of China-EU two way labour mobility, recruitment costs and complaint mechanism was organized from 14-16 November 2016 in Nanjing by the ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia in cooperation with the China International Contractors Association (CHINCA).

This workshop was organized within the framework of the Support to EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Project, funded by the EU and jointly implemented by the ILO and IOM. It aimed to enhance the understanding of the participants of the scope, opportunities and challenges for a two-way labour migration between China and the EU, provide an international exchange platform for government officials, practitioners and other professionals working on migration issues in China to promote sound national policies and practices on labour immigration and emigration, and to discuss the findings of relevant studies conducted under the project and exchange ideas for recommendations to reduce the vulnerability of migrants and increase the benefits from international labour migration.

Mr. Stéphane Bauguil, Programme Manager, EU Service for Foreign Policy Instruments of the Delegation of the European Union to China, noted in his opening remark that: “China's migration flows to EU countries are significant, both concerning highly educated migrants but also low-skilled workers. There are nevertheless significant issues at stake on both the European and Chinese sides for managing these potential migrants' flows, especially in terms of recruitment costs, or access to justice and protection. Tackling all these issues is needed in fact in order to enhance the impact of migration on development, and at the same time for reducing irregular migration flows.”

Mr. Tim De Meyer, Director of ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia, pointed to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which “sets out to protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment… We need to look together how we can build on the improvements already made in the protection of overseas Chinese workers and the development of complaint mechanism to better protect their interests and rights.”

The opening session was also marked by Mr. Fang Qiuchen, Chairman of CHINCA, and Mr. Zhu Yimin, Deputy Director General, Jiangsu Provincial Department of Commerce, who made opening remarks and welcomed the participants from both China and abroad.

A wide range of issues related to labour migration were covered in the workshop, including:
  • National policies and practices on international labour migration management and international labour standards on migration for employment and migrant workers.
  • Supported by comprehensive data analysis, the presentations on the scope and potential of China-EU labour migration and EU labour and skills gaps and opportunities for Chinese migrant workers aroused remarkable interests among labour service companies and relevant government officials.
  • Good practices were presented from the World Employment Corporation (WEC) code of practice and IOM Pre-departure Orientation Programme.
  • Policies and practices to attract skilled international migrants in China and management and service of foreigner's employment in China was also introduced and discussed.
One of the highlights of the workshop was the regional and sectoral approach to promote labour migration, in particular in the China-EU context. Mr. Zeng Gaofeng from the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Commerce introduced the provincial policies and practices of international labour cooperation, including best practices such as providing government subsidies to cover commercial insurance for all overseas migrant workers from Jiangsu and establishing an online platform for the recruitment of job seekers to work overseas. An in-depth exchange was conducted between CHINCA, foreign labour cooperation companies represented by Weihai International Manpower Services Co., Ltd, and Ms. Isabell Halletz, CEO of German Employers’ Association of Private Care Providers to discuss on-going cooperation and identify existing issues and challenges in recruiting and providing services for Chinese nurses to work in Germany. The workshop also re-viewed the complaint mechanism for overseas Chinese workers, addressed the recruitment cost issue and discussed the principles and practices to promote labour mobility and the fundamental rights of workers and reduce the vulnerability of migrants as set forth in the ILO Fair Recruitment Principles and Operational Guidelines, introduced by Mr. Nilim Baruah, Senior Migration Specialist of ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

50 participants from China International Contractors Association (CHINCA), State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), Department of Commerce of Jiangsu Province, Departments of Commerce of Nanjing Municipality and Suzhou Municipality, Centre for China and Globalization (CCG), German Employers' Association of Private Care Providers, recruitment agencies and associations actively engaged themselves in the discussions.

As commented by Mr. Zhang Xiangru, Director of the Department of Labour Service Cooperation of CHINCA, “this workshop was not only a well organized and elaborated seminar supported by professional speakers and disciplined participants, it was indeed an exchange that covered a wide variety of subjects and presented a complete picture of labour migration industry. More importantly, the topic of China-EU two way labour migration was for the first time clearly illus-trated in this workshop with most cutting-edge issues and highly efficient communication.” More-over, the workshop also raised profound questions for further improvement and better communication and collaboration between China and EU as well as between government, enterprises and workers to expand regular labour migration, protect migrant workers’ rights and maximize the benefits of international labour migration for all parties concerned.