GMPA: Global Migration Policy Associates

Migration Topics

Decent Work
(Research papers and policy briefs below)

According to ILO estimates, around 90% of international migration today is bound up in the world of work: an estimated 105 million of the 214 million people living outside countries of birth or citizenship in 2010 were economically active, meaning employed, self-employed or otherwise engaged in remunerated activity. That comprises most working-age people in the 'migrant' population, including refugees and asylum seekers as well as persons migrating for family reunification. Once recognized and/or resettled, refugee and asylee adults need to work while most children immigrating for family reunification enter the labour market when they reach working age. Assuming one dependent for each economically active person in this population gives a total of over 200 million migrants economically active or dependent on those who are. These estimates do not include short-term or seasonal migrants, for whom no global figures are available.

However, as the International Labour Conference summarized it:
Despite the positive experiences of migrant workers, a significant number face undue hardships and abuse in the form of low wages, poor working conditions, virtual absence of social protection, denial of freedom of association and workers' rights, discrimination and xenophobia, as well as social exclusion. Gaps in working conditions, wages and treatment exist among migrant workers and between migrant and national workers. In a significant number of cases unemployment rates, job security and wages differ between regular migrant workers and national workers.
(Resolution concerning a fair deal for migrant workers in a global economy, International Labour Conference, Geneva, 2004)

Obtaining decent work conditions for migrants and protecting migrant workers are universal challenges today as globalized economic competition and deregulation increase pressures to reduce workplace protection. (See also Health and migration) Key issues include: recognizing labour rights as human rights; legislating and implementing labour standards such as those on occupational safety and health working conditions, maternity protection and freedom of association applicable in all workplaces; and ensuring adequate and effective monitoring—labour inspection—to enforce the law.

GMPA experts conduct research, policy development and advisory services, in particular with social partner employers' and trade union organizations, to support extending decent work to all migrant workers.

Focal Point Contacts

Patrick Taran

Piyasiri Wickramasekara

Mamadou Niang


Documents and Papers