Opening remarks at Workshop on Pre-Departure orientation for workers going to Europe

By Mr Dai Xiaochu, Deputy Director, ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia

Statement | Beijing, China | 22 November 2017
Mr Marcin Grabiec, Ms Anna Eriksson,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning. I am pleased to join you here today at this Workshop on Pre-Departure Orientation for Workers going to Europe on behalf of the International Labour Organization (ILO). I wish to thank the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for organ-izing this workshop, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, the China International Contractors Association (CHINCA) as well as the representatives from other partner agencies for your participation and contribution. My sincere appreciation also goes to the European Union for supporting the EU-China Migration and Mobility Support Project which is sponsoring this workshop. ILO feels privileged to jointly implement the project with IOM.

Promoting regular migration, combating irregular migration, preventing illicit trafficking and forced labour are among ILO’s core mandates to promote decent work for all women and men. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals leave their country to work abroad. Currently, there are around 10 million Chinese migrant workers overseas. The remittances these workers sent home ranks China among the top globally in receiving overseas remittances. However, despite their enormous contribution, many of these migrant workers often suffer low wages, unsafe working conditions, a lack of social protection and integration, excessive recruitment and remittance fees, or even fall victim to forced labour. This is largely due to the fact that the migrant workers often have very limited information before leaving their country, especially about the risks associated with irregular migration. In particular, the insufficient information related to regular migration channels, employment contract, job responsibilities, living and working conditions, as well as information on accessing complaint mechanisms and support services and seeking remedies can lead to the risks of exploitation and abuse, both at home and overseas.

To reduce such risks and fill the information gap, continued efforts have been made by the ILO and the governments and social partners around the world. In 2015, the ILO introduced the global “Fair Recruitment Initiative” to help prevent human trafficking and forced labour and protect the rights of workers. In September 2016, the ILO launched the General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment to promote labour mobility and the fundamental rights of workers, including migrant workers and citizens alike. The Fair Recruitment Guidelines call on the governments to provide pre-departure and post-arrival orientations, including the provision of training regarding workers’ rights and fair recruitment for potential migrants. Enhanced information access for potential mi-grants, in particular the disadvantaged groups such as those with lower level of education and poor economic conditions, can effectively prevent irregular migration and various forms of forced labour related to it. Special attention should be paid to these groups, in particular women and young people, when developing the pre-departure orientation programmes.

The Chinese government has been making active efforts to improve the management of international labour migration and protect migrant workers’ rights. Enhanced cooperation with international organizations and partners such as the ILO, IOM and the EU will sup-port China’s efforts and further promote international labour cooperation while maximizing the development impact of labour migration.

This workshop provides a platform for international experts, in particular representatives from the EU, EU member States, Chinese government officials and other key counterparts engaged in international migration management to exchange best practices in providing pre-departure orientation to migrant workers and protecting their rights. In particular, the introduction of the host country policies and practices on the regulation and protection of migrant workers as well as the information on skills shortage and labour market need will provide useful reference for the development and implementation of effective pre-departure orientation programmes. I look forward to a constructive exchange and wish the workshop a great success. Thank you.