The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) – the institutional representative of more than 45 million companies in over 130 countries, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) a related UN Organisation released last week employer guidance for measures to protect migrants during COVID-19.
|ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton
Migrant workers are a crucial part of the global workforce, accounting for 3.5% of the world’s population, according to IOM. Worldwide, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), rely upon migrant workers, including sectors providing essential commodities and services, as well as industries hard-hit by COVID-19. As the economic and human consequences of COVID-19 continue to shape local communities, businesses can play a decisive role in addressing the unique challenges faced by migrant workers. Migrant workers are susceptible to job loss, salary cuts, and various health and safety concerns. Unlike local populations, migrant workers often are far from family support networks. They face language and/or cultural barriers and often lack social protections. Many suffer from discrimination.
Meanwhile, overseas economies that rely on financial contributions from migrant workers – especially low- and middle- income countries – face a steep decline in cross-border remittances.
In response, ICC and IOM have published a set of guidelines for employers highlighting the private sector’s role in addressing the specific challenges of migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance includes a set of general principles for employers – such as treating all workers with “equality, dignity, and respect” – notwithstanding their gender or migratory status. This guidance is presented in five categories: physical and mental health, living and working conditions, economic support, ethical recruitment, and supply chain transparency commitments.
ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton said, “COVID-19 has exposed and heightened existing inequalities within our global economic system, including the daily challenges faced by migrant workers around the world.” Further he noted, “By establishing inclusive policy responses, businesses can assure the health, well-being, and safety of all employees, while at the same time, lay the foundations for a more resilient economic recovery.”
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is represented in Sri Lanka by ICCSL. Dinesh Weerakkody Chairman ICCSL noted that the guidelines will be shared with the ICC member network in Sri Lanka.