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Fair migration

A better way for Pakistani migrant workers to combat exploitation

An internet service will make it easier for Pakistani workers abroad to make formal complaints in cases of alleged deception in recruitment or exploitation in employment.

Press release | 10 February 2016
ISLAMABAD (ILO News) – Pakistan has launched a new online complaint management system for its citizens working overseas. The service aims to lower the barriers for workers facing employment related exploitation to access grievance mechanisms.

Federal Minister for the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MoOPHRD), Pir Syed Sadaruddin Shah Rashidi, welcomed the initiative, saying the prime focus of the Ministry “is to promote the welfare and protection of migrant workers at all stages of the migration cycle. While the Ministry has had a complaints system for many years, it is recognized that this system – which was paper based and required the complainants to visit the complaints office in person – was not sufficiently responsive to the needs of migrant workers and overseas Pakistanis. The new web-based complaints system will make it easier for users to submit their complaints as it can be filed from anywhere in the world as long as he or she has internet access.”

The complaints system, which can be accessed at, will also allow those workers using it to track the status of their complaints. According to Fayyaz Malik – Chief, Policy Planning Unit MoOPHRD, the tool will increase both the efficiency and the transparency in handling complaints for the government, contributing to improved safeguarding of the interests of all migrant workers.

Speaking at the launch, Bernard François, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan said the EU’s involvement in the programme stemmed from its belief “in the rule of law, applied to every dimension of law, and in particular labour law …. It is of the utmost importance that migrant workers are aware of their rights”.

By focusing on improving access to justice, we can make decent work a reality for migrant workers."

Belinda Chanda, ILO Pakistan
The online complaint system, “will protect (migrant workers) from abuses and exploitation they may face during recruitment and employment,” François added. He also expressed his optimism that the system will see “disputes and abuses better managed and hopefully resolved in a timely and friendly manner”.

The online system was developed by the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MoOPHRD) with the technical and financial assistance of the joint ILO/European Union South Asia Labour Migration Governance (SALM) Project. This project aims to promote the management of labour migration from India, Nepal and Pakistan to the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), ensure effective protection of the rights of vulnerable migrant workers, enhance the development impact of labour migration and reduce unregulated migration.

Belinda Chanda, Officer-in-Charge, ILO Pakistan congratulated the MoOPHRD on the launch of the new online complaints mechanism. In her remarks, she noted that… "the online complaint system is targeted at a particular category of beneficiaries-migrant workers, who are key contributors to Pakistan’s economy through their remittances, estimated in the billions of dollars. The system therefore sets the Pakistani Government and key stakeholders on the course of improving access to justice for migrant workers. The ILO urges stakeholders involved in facilitating safe migration, to work together closely and coherently."

Significant numbers of Pakistanis emigrate in search of work. According to the Bureau of Emigration between 1971 to 2015, more than 8 million Pakistanis have moved abroad for employment. 94 per cent have migrated to Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) Countries, 80 per cent of Pakistani migrant workers are located in just two countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The vast majority of migrants from Pakistan are men; during the 2008–13 period, less than 6,500 women (0.1 per cent) migrated for reasons of employment