Asean to sign document on migrant worker rights protection

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 14, 2017

Migrant advocate Susan Ople welcomed on Tuesday the new initiative of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to boost the protection of migrant workers since it will open up safer employment opportunities to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Middle East.

Among the provisions of the landmark document are: upholding fair treatment of migrant workers, granting visitation rights by family members, and prohibiting the seizure of passports.

The signed ASEAN consensus document has yet to be released in public. Almost seven million or two-thirds of about 10 million worldwide migrants living and working in Asean come from the region.

The leaders signed the agreement a decade after the signing of the Cebu declaration on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, chair of Asean this year, led his guests, including Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, to sign the document at the end of the three-day 31st Asean Summit and Related Summits.

The bloc identified the protection of migrant workers' rights as one vital measure to help bring forth a secure and prosperous ASEAN community. It serves as a beacon for other regional blocs to follow.

"Next year, we expect this agreement to blossom into a concrete and practical action plan that would be acceptable to both labor-sending and labor-receiving countries within ASEAN".

According to media reports in Manila, the Philippines and Indonesia have been pushing for a legally binding framework, while Singapore and Malaysia have had reservations about it as it may encourage more undocumented migrant workers.

As for the workers' group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), the agreement was a positive step towards improved working conditions for migrant workers.

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