The meeting organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as one of the foremost Labour Centres in Africa and one of the leading members of the African Trade Union Migration Network (ATUMNET), was specifically to inaugurate a National Trade Union Platform on Labour Migration in Nigeria. The platform will be a broad based platform comprising of its affiliates having migrant workers as their members, those facing migration of their members and having direct dealings with migrants both in the public and private sectors, and selected Civil Society organisations (CSOs) working on migration and government agencies as allies, as priority. The mandate would be to further expand it to all affiliates of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUCN).
The following objectives were agreed on at the meeting:
➢ To ensure a platform for better and proper coordination of migration activities towards promoting safe, regular and orderly migration under the coordination of the NLC. This will contribute to the overall goal of better migration management and governance in the Country and Africa,
➢ To develop strategies for trade unions involvement in the issues of internally displaced persons (IDPs), their rehabilitation and reintegration.
➢ To provide opportunity for affiliates of NLC and its allies to have regular interface to share experiences, ideas and collaborate on migration issues, strategies and approaches to labour migration management, especially on how trade unions can use their influence in the country to ensure ratification of the relevant Conventions and their domestication.
➢ To develop a Trade Union Policy on Migration and carry out advocacy on better migration management.
➢ To develop modalities to organize migrant workers into the trade union in Nigeria.
➢ To provide necessary IEC materials on Migrant Rights and provide necessary assistants to migrants and their families.
➢ To partner with sisters trade unions outside Nigeria on the protection of Nigerian migrants workers and how to organize them into their unions.
The meeting was attended by a total of 34 participants across the leadership of the NLC led by Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, Mr. Frantz Celestin, the Chief of Mission, IOM Nigeria, Mr. Dennis Zulu, the Director of ILO, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, and Togo Office, Mr. Emmanuel Udoh, , the Director Employment and Wages, Minister of Labour and Employment, representing the Minister of Labour and Employment, representatives of the Public Services affiliates of NLC, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Journalist, National Union of Road Transport Workers, National Union of Civil Engineering, Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers, National Union of Airport Employees, Nigeria Union of Mine Workers, some Government Agencies, and selected CSOs (see attached attendance).
The opening session commenced with the introduction of dignitaries present at the meeting and the preliminary introduction of the purpose of the meeting by the NLC Migration Desk Officer Comrade Eustace James. He noted that the purpose of the meeting is to formally inaugurate the Trade Union Platform on Migration in Nigeria; with a view to have a trade union coordinated approach to migration issues in Nigeria.
The Chief of Mission IOM Nigeria commended the Trade Unions move and said there are already opportunities for better migration management and promotion of Labour Standards in Nigeria, given that Nigeria has ratified the UN Convention on Domestic Work, Convention 97, and adopted a National Policy on Migration. He encouraged the platform to work towards ratification of other relevant international instruments,especially; Convention 143, 181, 189, and ILO Protocol 29 which promote freedom of Association and protection of Migrants Rights and that of their families. He noted that the IOM is a global organization that is supporting and encouraging fair migration, promote social status and development of migrants, and supports countries in ensuring better management of migration as a development issue. He pledge the support and commitment of IOM to the platform.
The Director of ILO in his remarks stated that the ILO is very privilege to be part of the meeting to inaugurate a National Trade Union platform on Migration in Nigeria. He made the point that the ILO as UN Agency is very clear on how it can ensure better migration. That the ILO programmes from its inception gear toward promotion of better Labour Standards and fair migration, through its standard setting mechanisms, capacity building programmes and general discussions. He informed the meeting that the 106
ILO General Discussion adopted a Pan of Action for ILO to further the Global Compact on Migration, with its priorities on promoting the implementation of the SDGs, especially Goal 8; the promotes sustainable development that is inclusive and ensuring Social Protection and Social Dialogue. He said the crisis and challenges of migration today are enormous and to deal with them, there is an urgent need for all stakeholders to come together and work towards the protection of the Human and Labour Rights of all migrants irrespective of their migration status.
He pledged the continuous support of the ILO to any effort that will promote fair migration and to the NLC, with major concerns on the Labour Rights and Decent Work, Freedom of Associations, Fair Recruitment, Social Protection and Social Dialogue, and to assist trade unions to organize themselves to ensure fair migration as expressed in the Global Compact.
The Director of Employment and Wages brings felicitation and goodwill from the Minister of Labour and Employment and expressed the ministry’s delight to be part of the meeting. He commended the BLC for the initiative and noted that migration is cutcrossing issue that falls within the purview of many MDAs, CSOs and other actors in the society, which he said calls for collaborative efforts of all stakeholder to make it a winwin situation for all parties involved and to mitigate the adverse effects of migration. He noted that for the government of Nigeria, managing migration represents a growing challenge as Nigeria occupies an important position in the migration landscape in Africa. Equally, that the Nigerian Government recognizes the need for promotion of safe, fair and regular migration in views of its contributions to economic and social development of the country and to combat the increasing challenges of irregular migration, exploitative practices, forces Labour, smuggling and human trafficking. He informed the meeting that ministry in collaboration with the ILO, IOM and other partners have developed the National Policy on Labour Migration, which was adopted on the 15th October, 2014. That its adoption has provided the framework for good governance of labour migration in Nigeria, and therefore, it is an opportunity for all of us men and women to engage in labour migration for decent and productive employment in conditions of freedom, dignity, security and equity. At this juncture, he pledge the ministry support to the NLC efforts towards the promotion of fair migration.
The Congress President Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who came to the meeting after the closing of the opening session, addressed the participants and declared the meeting formally opened and the platform inaugurated. (Below is his address).
ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS AT THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL TRADE UNION PLATFORM ON MIGRATION HELD ON 910 AUGUST, 2018, ABUJA
Comrades, friends, allies, stakeholders, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), I welcome you all to this very important meeting taking place today here in Abuja. The NLC shares in the global vision to engage in the process to forge a multi-stakeholders framework of Trade Unions and its allies to address the issues of migration internationally, regionally, sub-regionally and nationally, and to ensure that internationally human and labour rights protections are guaranteed to all migrants. This is in line with ITUC-Africa, other Regional Trade Unions organization and the other allies to bring together members of African Trade Union Migration Network (ATUMNET), trade union leaders and their CSO friends across Africa to be exposed to and brainstorm on how to advance the fair, safe, orderly and regular migration.
This inaugural meeting is an initiative and effort to support national trade Unions to better understand the issues of migration, National Migration Policy, National Policy on Labour Migration, ECOWAS tool, Global Compact on Migration, other international instruments etc, and how best they can contribute to the attainment of better Migration Management, with particular reference to Labour Migration.
Also, to fashion out ways and strategies the trade unions can adopt to pursue and ensure effective implementation of the United Nations’ Global Compact that will be adopted come September, 2018.
The NLC, as the umbrella of trade unions in Nigeria, will support all efforts to strengthen the understanding of the trade unions and our allies on free movement and migration and how they can actively contribute to better management of migration and link it to development and the actualization of the decent work agenda.
We are sure that this platform will provide the necessary contributions and develop strategies and a list of demands within the context of promoting fair migration to the national governments as demands of working people and citizens of Nigerian and Africa. The NLC will contribute immensely to our struggle for better management of migration and to overcome limitations in the management of migration.
We in the NLC have resolved to be committed to campaign, advocacy and all activities that will promote fair migration, while also calling on our government and other stakeholders to do same.
There is no better way to do this than to increase the awareness level of our unions and members, to be committed to the struggle as well as strengthen the alliance relationship between workers and the “other” stakeholders in the society in ways to continue to enrich the
call for fair migration.
We have affirmed that fair migration and responsive governance are some of the ways to tame hazards of migration, poverty and inequality, given that fair migration is critical to a better society.
Beyond exposing participants to the instruments that promote better migration management, developing strategic trade union perspective on fair migration, also critical, is mobilizing the organized and unorganized workers, including migrants around the issues. This is because, as we all know, organising is the stronghold of the survival and relevance of any organisation and of course the trade union movement. We know that this will effectively reinforce our organising struggle aimed at improving and expanding the spaces for the defense, protection and promotion of workers’ rights and their families.
We reassure you of our commitment, readiness and availability in the struggle for the defense of the collective interests of workers including migrants, our communities and the future of our country. We are ready and willing to lead in the course of charting ways for positive changes and progress in our society.
Finally comrades, it is pertinent to mention that the NLC have long commenced internal finetuning processes aimed at an aggressive and sustained move in support of fair migration and organizing of migrants’ workers. We wish to restate that the Nigeria Labour Movement is driven purely by patriotic ideals and commitment to the working people and social justice. As this meeting aimed to kick starts a formal national trade union platform, set agenda and strategies towards achieving the ideals, better migration management and free movement, the Nigeria Labour Congress further reiterates it full commitment. Solidarity forever!
Setting the Context:
The business session commenced with the setting of the context by the NLC Migration Desk Officer, who noted that the context was nothing more than that which is contained in the introduction, which is simply to formally inaugurate the Trade Union Platform on Migration in Nigeria; with a view to have a trade union coordinated approach to migration issues in Nigeria and most importantly develop and Action Plan and Strategies to ensure promoting of the Human and Labour Rights of Migrants and ultimately organized the unorganized, including Migrant Workers.
Update on the Trade Unions Involvement in Migration Activities and its Necessity: Comrade Joel Odigie, the Coordinator of Trade Union and Human Rights of ITUC-Africa discussed with the participants the trade unions efforts towards promoting safe, fair and regular migration. He noted that migration is not a problem anyone in the world as almost every one is a migrant either workers or not, and that it is historical, but the management of migration is what is challenging.
He informed the meeting of a number of things and actions the trade unions at National, Sub-Regional and Regional level have taken and are doing to promote fair migration and reduce high incidences of irregular migration, as follows; Advocacy for;
• An African Minimum Wage
• Social Protection with Universal Coverage
• Migration should be made voluntary
• Securing Human and Labour Rights for all
• Protection of Human and Labour Rights
He stated that the goals of the ITUC-Africa on migration, is to;
• Organise Migrants Workers into trade unions to give them a voice and representation
• Carryout Researches on Migration and Migrants
• Campaign for effective implementation of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement and Migration (ECOWAS FMM)
• Campaign for the implementation of the AU-2015 position on Visa on Arrival for all Africans (AU Declaration on Free Movement and Migration FMM)
• Campaign for an end to Xenophobia/Afrophobia
• Campaign for Ratifications of AU Protocol on Establishment of Free African Community Movement by 2019
• Campaign for the Ratification of ILO Protocol 29, Convention 97, 143, 181, 189 etc • Push for Social Protection for all and its Portability in Africa and ECOWAS
• Campaign against Human Trafficking and Force Labour • Campaign for Skills Development and Measurement and Ratification of ILO Convention 122 on Employment Policy
• Identification of Local Migration issue and providing workable solutions to the challenges, such, as that of Citizenship and indigenization
• Campaign for promotion of integration
The participants discussed the context and the presentation and come out with some understandings as follows:
➢ That for the platform to be effective, there is the need to have a structure in place as being initiated by the NLC, the structure should have a national structure with representatives from public and private sectors affiliates of the NLC, informal economy workers, CSOs, Media, and TUC Nigeria to enable it reflect a true status of National Trade Union Platform.
➢ That the structur should have Zonal Structures replicated as above
➢ There should be Trade Union Desks on Migration
➢ That the Mandate of the Platform should be as follows; o To mobilise the citizenry around migration issues
Drive the advocacy camapigns
Communicate –Internally and externally migration activities,
Carryout Reporting activities
Drive the Organising
ILO Normative Framework on Promoting Safe, Orderly and Fair Migration:
Dino Corell, the Migration and Employment Officer of ILO Abuja Office made a presentation on the ILO normative framework to promote fair migration and to reiterate the ILO’s commitment to better migration management.
The highlights of his presentation are:
• The need for a normative framework
• International Labour Standards
• Migration for Employment Convention
• Migrant Workers Convention
Group Discussion: The participants discussed the presentation and come to conclusion that there is urgent need for the trade unions and its allies to engage in aggressive pursuit for advocacy to promote fair migration as envisaged by the ILO normative frame by developing an Action Plan and Implementation Strategies that will guide the trade unions platform.
ECWOAS Action on Labour Migration through the Free Movement of Persons and Migration by Ms. Agatha Kolawwole, of ILO ECOWAS Project on FMM: She started he presentation with a remark that migration is not a problem nor a crime but its trend and management is the major issue, and notes that the ILO Principle is that people should migrate, but should be done as a matter of choice and done safe, orderly and in regular manner. She informed the participants that ECOWAS developed a Labour Migration Training Manual with the assistance of the ILO, and have Revitalised the ECOWAS Social Dialogue Forum, which has Labour Migration and Social Protection Working Groups.
This she said all strategies to strengthen social clauses implementation in
the ECOWAS Community as the Social Dialogue Forum is now the Experts Forum to meet before the Ministerial Meeting of ECOWAS Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs.
Equally, she noted that the ILO supported the draft directive on the harmonization of Labour Laws in ECOWAS, Qualification Harmonization and Skill Harmonization in ECOWAS. She informed the meeting that ECOWAS has developed guideline for the protection of Migrants Workers and the ILO is supporting the implementation and operationalization of the guideline.
On Trafficking she said there is a an existing Training Manual on Trafficking in Person, Child Labour and Force Labour and the ILO is supporting the stepping down training on the manual, and is calling for a Rapid Assessment on the Status of Law Enforcements Collaboration within ECOWAS.
Way Forward: She noted that the way forward is for all stakeholders including the trade unions to support the High Level Social Dialogue Forum, Operationalization/Implementation of the ECOWAS Social Security and Social Protection Protocol. Lastly is the strengthening of the implementation of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement and Migration etc.
Development of Strategic Action Plan The meeting agreed on the need for an action plan that will take care of the following:
Mapping: Identifying the various sectors where migration and migrants are dominant; such as; Textile, Construction, Industries/Manufacturing, Informal Economy (Markets), Education (both public and private schools), Health Sector (both public and private hospital and other health institutions), Transportation (Motor Parks, International Transport Operators and Routes), Agricultural Sector (Farms, Plantations, Poultries etc), Hospitality, Food and Beverages, Entertainment, Personal Services, Domestic Works, Sports etc.
Organising: To engage in general organising of the unorganized workers with focus on migrants workers identification with a target of 1000 migrant workers yearly
Strategy: Identification of Migrants Associations and National Communities Associations to reach the migrants and their families. Inviting them to our meetings and assisting in regularizing their status and protect their rights
Integration: Advocacy on ECOWAS/AU/FMM Visa on Arrival policy. Writing to the Federal Government and advocacy visit to make case for free movement in Africa. Campaigns against Points of Entry Harassments, distortion of movement and extortion.
Trade Union Research: To carry out a research on Barriers to Free Movement and Migration (ECOWAS-FMM)