Inclusive Futures: Fostering Social Protection for Migrant Workers

Regional training on Extending Social Protection for Migrant Workers to enhance tripartite plus partners' understanding of policy measures and strategies for extending social protection to all in the region, with a particular focus on migrant workers and their families.

Article | 27 October 2023
The UK FCDO funded Better Regional Migration Management (BRMM) Programme in partnership with the Joint Labour Migration Programme (JLMP)-Lead and the FAIRWAY Project, organised a 4-day regional training on Extending Social Protection for Migrant Workers in Mombasa, Kenya. The training held from October 24th to 27th, 2023, aimed at enhancing tripartite plus partners' understanding of policy measures and strategies for extending social protection to all in the region, with a particular focus on migrant workers and their families.

The workshop was attended by Government agencies responsible for labour and social security, workers' and employers' organizations, and Private Employment Agencies (PrEAs) from Djibouti, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, as well as international and regional organizations, such as African Union, East African Community, as well as International Trade Union Confederation Africa.

At the opening session, Mr. Alexio Musindo, Director of the ILO Country Office for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan underscored the importance of social protection, not only for migrant workers but also for the host communities. He further recognized social protection as a fundamental human right and a safety net for migrants and their families.

Training sessions explored the landscape of social protection for migrant workers, offering comprehensive insights into the context and frameworks. It also enriched the understanding of the social protection landscape through presentations on migrant workers in the Gulf, ILO's integrated approach to social protection enhancement, social security agreements (SSAs), and bilateral labour agreements (BLAs). Discussions shed light on challenges that migrant workers experience in the absence of Social Security agreements (SSAs), as social security mechanisms are often well-established within host countries, with little consideration for benefits upon return. It was clarified that BLAs should not be conflated with SSAs; as they serve distinct purposes. While BLAs should comprehensively cover provisions, including insurance, many of them currently fall short in this regard. The importance of pre-negotiations between countries of origin and destination, along with relevant national agencies, before concluding BLAs was also emphasised. The training's group exercise highlighted the various gaps in BLAs in regard to social protection, potential drafting ambiguities, and the lack of consideration for gender-specific issues.

Additionally, the training highlighted the pivotal role of a Migrant Welfare Fund (MWF), the importance of inclusive policies considering specific target groups, and the potential impact of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) in promoting protection for migrant workers. The event was concluded with a session dedicated to summarising key learnings and agreeing on way forward. Participants were encouraged to reflect and develop action plans on how the training's topics could be practically applied in their respective countries and organizations. Discussions throughout the event reaffirmed the critical importance of extending social protection to migrant workers and the need for strong advocacy, cooperation, and action to make this a reality.