The Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare has taken steps to carry forward the National Labour Migration Policy by establishing a high-level advisory committee consisting of key ministries, Recruitment Industry, Trade Unions and civil society organizations to oversee the implementation of the National Policy. The advisory committee has met twice since being set up in August 2009 and expects to have regular meetings every two months. In order to facilitate the work of the advisory committee, an Inter Ministerial Coordinating Committee has also been appointed comprising focal points from key ministries and departments. The International Labour Organization functions as the secretariat for the advisory committee, providing technical assistance when necessary.
Some of the key activities undertaken this year were to cost the National Policy and submit a fund request to the treasury for implementation activities in the coming year. A review of the SLBFE Act and the code of ethics developed by the recruitment agents were also carried out and the advisory committee will arrange consultations with key stakeholders early next year to discuss the recommendations arising from the various reviews.
Another important outcome is that a process is underway to formulate new legislation in developing a policy framework for the protection of children of migrant workers in consultation with the Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms, Department of Probation and Childcare and the National Child Protection Authority. Under the new legislation, the judiciary will act as the upper guardian of the children of migrant workers and the implementation and monitoring responsibility will be placed with the National Child Protection Authority and the Department of Probation and Childcare under the overall authority of The District Court of Sri Lanka.
In view of enhancing services for migrant workers, the Ministry has already secured a piece of land near the Katunayake Airport where it will set up a fully fledged training centre. The Centre will also have a section which will provide lodging for migrant workers from distant places who are leaving the country as well as returning to the country.
The Ministry has also developed a comprehensive database to capture the profiles of all prospective migrant workers and workers who are currently employed abroad and their families which will allow the Ministry and the Bureau to have a better network to monitor the welfare and whereabouts of the migrant workers.
Some of the key activities envisaged next year is a capacity assessment and review of the role of the Sri Lankan missions in labour receiving countries and a workshop has been scheduled for early next year. There will also be an overall review of the training modules in order bring them up to a national vocational training standard and make the shift towards more skilled migration.
The Ministry is further interested in developing research and study on labour migration in Sri Lanka and expects to discuss this with universities in the coming year.
The National Policy was discussed and commended at the UN session on the protection of migrant workers held in Geneva mid October attended by the Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion, Hon. Kheliya Rambukwella.
The Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare is committed in creating a safe environment where all migrant workers can secure employment in conditions of freedom, equity, security, and human dignity.