Promoting fair recruitment of foreign migrant workers through policy measures

ILO hosts a policy dialogue to promote fair recruitment for intended migrant workers and minimize the role of intermediaries in foreign recruitment

Press release | Karachi, Pakistan | 11 February 2022
KARACHI (ILO News): The International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration the Ministry of Overseas Pakistani and Human Resources Development (MOP&HRD) and with its constituents, hosted a policy dialogue in Karachi on 18th Jan 2022 to discuss and identify measures to promote fair recruitment for migrant workers and minimize the role of subagents/intermediaries in foreign employment recruitment in Pakistan. The participants deliberated on the key challenges, encountered by Pakistani migrant workers, reflected on respective measures and concurred that integrated approaches could contribute minimizing the role of subagents in recruitment of migrant workers for foreign employment. They synthesized a set of policy recommendations including regular data collection on recruitment costs and labour migration, massive awareness raising to promote fair recruitment process, improved labour migration governance, laws and regulations as well as capacity development of Overseas Employment Promoters (OEPs) and government institutions.

The event was joined by 31 senior delegates, representing Protectorate of Emigrants Office (PEO) Karachi, Department of Labour and Human Resource Development Government of Sindh, Federal Investigation Agency, Sindh Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority (STEVTA), Aga Khan University (AKU), Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), Employers’ Federation of Pakistan (EFP), Pakistan Overseas Employment Promoters Association (POEPA), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and civil society.

While opening the dialogue, Mr Saad Gilani, Senior Program Officer, ILO Country Office shared the background and objectives of series of dialogues, contributing to promote fair recruitment of Pakistani migrant workers for foreign employment. He referred to the ILO research “Recruitment agency business practices and role of intermediaries in the foreign employment industry in Pakistan” which confirmed the prevalence and role of sub-agent in foreign employment recruitment. He invited participants to discuss the ways and measures to reduce exploitation of Pakistani migrant workers and to provide them easy and simplified procedures to access Decent Work through migration.
Mr Ghulam Murtaza, Master Trainer, Pakistan Worker Federation (PWF) shared that PWF has established 30 migrant resources centres in different districts at grass root level to provide information to protentional foreign migrants regarding foreign employment recruitment process. PWF will be grateful to extend its cooperation with different key stakeholders to promote fair and ethical foreign employment recruitment in Pakistan.

Mr Syed Nazar Ali, Secretary General, Employers Federation of Pakistan (EFP) highlighted that despite formal institutional structure, system and mechanism in Pakistan, the role of subagent or unregistered intermediaries in recruitment process could be witnessed. He said that the rising demand of human resource for foreign employment, has its impact on recruitment costs in Pakistan. Majority of the migrant workers are low educated and unskilled persons from rural areas. He further stated that the formal system of foreign employment promotion by both Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) and OEPs has limited outreach in rural areas, which may create the gaps for informal channels of sub agents. He recommended enhanced role for social partners in creating awareness among masses and enhancing outreach of licensed OEPs.

Mr Ali Hassan Rajpar, Assistant Commissioner, Mines Labour Welfare, Department of Labour and Human Resources, Sindh emphasized the need to improve bilateral and multilateral agreement with countries of destinations to promote fair recruitment practices in Pakistan. Referring to the Emigration Ordinance 1979, he highlighted that the ordinance had very limited focus on the welfare of emigrants. He encouraged the Federal Government to finalize and implement the National Emigration and Welfare Policy to protect the rights of Pakistani migrant workers.

Mr Muhammad Afzal Memon, Director, Protector of Emigrants Office Karachi, shared that the top priority for the Government of Pakistan is to provide dignified and simplified procedures to overseas Pakistanis. Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MOP&HRD) has appointed Community Welfare Attachés in 17 countries to support the protection and welfare of migrant workers. Commending the efforts of Government of Pakistan, he shared that over decades, the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment (BE&OE) facilitated safe and regular migration of 11.6 million individuals around the globe. He mentioned that since 2005, BE&OE had gradually minimised the role of sub agents in foreign employment industry by introducing the formal roles of and empowering the OEPs so that they could select the right person in line with the requirements for foreign employment. He informed that the Government had been working to facilitate the direct agreement between migrant workers and foreign employer.

Ms Huma Gul, Program officer, UN Women – Pakistan Office, highlighted the challenges and vulnerabilities faced by women migrant workers in the recruitment process and shared potential avenues for enhancing women’s access to safe and regular migration and reducing their vulnerabilities during recruitment process.

The event was organised under the "Governance of Labour Migration in South and South-East Asia (GOALS)” which is a Joint Regional Programme between the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).