|6 – 8 September 2021
|Hybrid, in Brunei Darussalam and online.
|Ms Marja Paavilainen, Senior Programme Officer, TRIANGLE in ASEAN Programme
The ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML) is an open platform for the review, discussion and exchange of good practices and ideas between governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, and civil society on key issues facing migrant workers in Southeast Asia. Each year the Forum develops recommendations to advance the implementation of the principles of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
The theme ‘Recovery and Labour Migration in the Post-Pandemic Future in ASEAN’ is chosen this year in accordance with Brunei Darussalam ASEAN Chairmanship theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”. With the chosen 14th AFML theme, Brunei Darussalam aims to highlight the importance of preparation for recovery in the post-pandemic future in ASEAN in order to build a more prepared, dynamic and sustainable regional community that can enhance our people’s lives.
Sub-theme 1: Protection of Migrant Workers during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Current situation will discuss the immediate measures required to address migrant workers’ basic needs like for example access to adequate food, shelter and healthcare. This includes equal access social protection, including medical care, vaccines, and basic income security; access to remedies for wage and other labour rights violations; and improved safety and health prevention and measures at workplaces and in housing. It is also crucial to ensure women migrant workers’ access to gender-responsiveness support services and reintegration support, including essential services for victims of gender based violence. Going forward, public health measures such as movement restrictions and workplace closures need to become evidence-based, more humane, and smarter to sustain economic and social recovery.
Sub-theme 2: Recovery and the post pandemic future will discuss the long term measures needed to address existing gaps in migrant workers’ protection that have become evident or been exacerbated by the pandemic. Gaps in labour law protection of migrant workers – including those in essential services, in domestic work and in informal or gig economy jobs and those with irregular status – need to be addressed to avoid future crises resulting in similar humanitarian emergency, irregular movements, wage violations and uncompensated job losses seen during COVID-19. When labour migration reopens within the region, measures are needed to ensure that migrant workers are not charged fees for their recruitment, including costs related to COVID-19 testing, vaccination and quarantine. National standards and practices with respect to migrant workers’ housing need to be improved and labour protection strengthened and enforced to benefit migrant workers, including in domestic work. Extending migrant workers’ social protection and the portability of benefits through unilateral and bilateral measures is key to improving their resilience to crises and income shocks. Access to skills development and recognition is also essential in maximizing development impacts of labour migration.
The ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic stimulated and accelerated efforts to promote long-term recovery and resilient policy responses related to the economy and employment. With the increase in global number of new cases as of July 2021 which was nearly 3 million , lockdown measures have been enforced worldwide which limit the movement as well as migration of labour. While vaccine campaigns are ramped up, it is inevitable that recovering from the pandemic will be challenging due to the unpredictable depth of the COVID-19 crisis.