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Migrant Workers

Document | 03 January 2012

ACTRAV: For a Rights-based Approach to Labour Migration


In 2009, nearly 200 million people, about 3% of the world’s population, lived outside their country of origin. Forecasts show this number rising, even if in relation to world population the phenomenon remains stable. Concerns over the rights of migrant workers has put the issue of international migration at the heart of national, regional and international trade union policies, because labour migration is first and foremost a labour and a rights issue.

Migrant workers are especially vulnerable in terms of limited rights and protection. In response to this, and in the wake of resolutions adopted by the International Labour Conference and the International Trade Union Congresses (ITUC), the ILO Bureau for Workers’ Activities has drawn up a plan of action based on the priorities of the international trade union movement and global and regional union bodies.

The main purpose of the ACTRAV work plan is to strengthen trade union capacities in their efforts to ensure the wider ratification and application of ILO relevant Conventions (Migration for Employment Convention No. 97 (Revised), 1949andMigrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention No. 143, 1975) and promote the ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration for a rights-based approach to labour migration. ACTRAV also facilitates cooperation between trade unions in countries of origin of the migrant workers and the countries of destination, to fight discrimination, racism and xenophobia and to place the issue of labour migration as a topic for social dialogue at national, regional and global levels.

Trade Union Manual

In the last two years, ACTRAV together with the Workers’ Programme and the International Training Centre of the ILO, in conjunction with the ILO's International Migration Programme and other ILO departments, has developed a trade union manual “In search of Decent Work –Migrant workers' rights ” which has been validated during trade union regional workshops and benefited from the experience of trade union experts in both countries of origin and countries of destination of migrant workers.

Model Trade Union Agreement


Together with the ITUC and regional trade union organizations and with the support of national trade union centers from countries of origin of migrant workers and those in the countries of destination, ACTRAV has developed a model “Trade Union Agreement on Migrant Workers’ Rights, which aims to articulate the role of trade unions in both origin and destination countries in protecting migrant workers.
The text of the agreement which can be adapted to fit specific situations contains key trade union principles, proposals for joint actions and campaigns and covers of wide range of practical suggestions for activities aimed at promoting the rights of both migrant and non-migrant workers.

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