Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers

The Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers organized the workshop at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, on 21 February 2009. The Workshop was part of the programme of the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum. The ASEAN Peoples’ Forum encourages civil society to engage on critical ASEAN issues both among itself and with ASEAN institutions.

The workshop theme: \"The Role of Civil Society and Trade Unions in the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.\"  The Workshop was attend by more then 60 participants.

Key points/recommendations:


  1. ASEAN policies and instruments on migrant workers must cover all migrant workers equally, including documented and undocumented migrant workers, as stipulated in Bangkok Declaration on Irregular Migration adopted in 1999. 


  1. ASEAN must ensure the regularization of undocumented migrant workers and their families in receiving countries and make process of migrant registration and obtaining legal documents more available, accessible, and affordable.


  1. ASEAN Member Governments should harmonize their labour laws and policies with the core international labour standards of the ILO, thereby applying a “decent work” approach to migrant workers.  Governments must ensure thorough application of the law to recruitment agencies.   Migrant domestic workers must be recognized and protected under national labour laws as a matter of priority. 


  1. ASEAN Member Governments must harmonize their laws and policies towards migrant workers and their families to ensure compliance with the UN conventions that they have ratified, especially the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  We believe that affording universal access to education and health for migrant families is beneficial to both the migrants and the public health and education systems of the receiving country. 


  1. Migrant workers and their families have the right to participate in determining all policies governing their social, economic and cultural lives.  Therefore, ASEAN states should ensure the right of migrant workers to form associations, organizations, and trade unions. 


  1.  ASEAN member states must recognize their joint and mutual responsibility for protecting the rights of migrant workers and address issues facing migrant workers in a spirit of reciprocity and accountability in line with the vision of a “caring and sharing” ASEAN. 


  1. ASEAN must recognize that increasing number of migrant workers are women and institute gender-sensitive policies to address the special concerns of women migrant workers. 


  1. As ASEAN integrates, it must increasingly shift policy towards migrant workers away from a state-centric model to an integrated ASEAN regional model.  States must recognize that policy towards migrant workers necessarily involve cross-border cooperation and engagement.  Therefore, ASEAN cannot permit migrant worker policies and standards to be constrained by ASEAN’s non-interference practices.


  1. ASEAN must institutionalize people’s participation in all processes involving the development of policies and agreements on migrant workers.  Therefore, the Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers should be recognized as a full partner by the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW), ASEAN Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) and ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting (ALMM).  The Task Force must be included in the ACMW’s drafting of the forthcoming Instrument on migrant workers in line with Article 22 of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.