Safe, responsible migration addresses skills shortages for businesses: Malik Tahir Javaid.

Malik Tahir Javaid, President Employers Federation of Pakistan has said that Safe and responsible migration is a shared interest, benefiting businesses by addressing skills shortages and workers by improving living conditions. Our roles are crucial in fostering secure migration and safeguarding migrant workers. To engage in meaningful dialogue, we must comprehend migration’s challenges and opportunities, contributing positively to its governance. He was speaking at Conference on Protection and Welfare of South Asian Migrant Workers organized by South Asian Regional Trade Union Council and South Asian Forum of Employers in Kathmandu, Nepal. Syed Nazar Ali, Secretary General also represented Pakistani Employers.

Malik Tahir Javaid said that he was deeply grateful to President Harbhajan Singh Sidhu of SARTUC and Alok Shriram, Chair of SAFE, for orchestrating this essential bilateral consultation on migration. As a representative of SAFE and Chairman of WEBCOP Pakistan Punjab Chapter, he stands before them to emphasize the pivotal role that bilateral dialogues between employers and trade unions play in resolving critical workplace issues.

“The joint initiative by SARTUC and SAFE to convene this regional consultation stands as a testament to our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Compact for Migration (GCM). The SAFE Action Plan on Migration and SARTUC’s Resolution underscore our dedication to shaping the migration landscape positively, providing a shared platform for accelerating our efforts. Acknowledging the challenges in the process of Labour Migration, the growing need for improving governance and management of Migration, and being fully conscious of their responsibility in this area, the SAFE developed and adopted Action Plan on Migration. The SAFE countries are committed to collective responsibility and to initiating social dialogue with the Government, Workers, and other stakeholders for promoting safe and regular migration and social protection of migrant workers while focusing on gender equality, inclusiveness, and benefit for the poor segment of society.”

Malik added that there has been significant efforts and developments in building bilateral agreements between countries of origin and destination guaranteeing social protection and safe working conditions for migrant worker. However, the need has arisen for bilateral plus on sub-regional agreement. Building upon the resolution and commitment, the employers’ organizations are engaged with the government and other stakeholders in their respective countries for promoting decent work for all including domestic workers and improving governance of migration.

He said, “A significant development on our agenda is the improvement and strengthening of skills development and recognition system. Almost all South Asian countries are focusing on TVET reforms to improve the quality and relevance of training for equipping youth with the skill sets needed in the overseas market. The piloting of skills Passport to recognize and certify the skills acquired informally through work experience in some countries including Pakistanis is a major achievement that will help in smooth transition of returning migrants to the labour market and promote decent employment opportunities to potential migrants. However, the introduction of new technologies and automation at the workplace is changing the skills demand that may result returning of migrant workers with low skills.”

He was of the view that bilateral and tripartite social dialogue to create safe and productive workplaces ensuring the safety of workers and enterprises’ sustainability is in progress. However, with the adoption of two ILO OSH Conventions to FPRWs, the need for compliance with OSH legislation and conventions has further increased and demand more role of trade union and employers. Tripartite dialogue, a cornerstone of our efforts, continues to forge safe and productive workplaces through the formulation of legislation on domestic workers and ratification of Convention 189 for ensuring rights and social protection for domestic workers.

“In Pakistan, EFP has played an active role in such initiatives, including the development of a Code of Conduct for Employers of Domestic Workers and the establishment of a Workers Union for domestic workers, whereas, the formation of employers association of domestic workers is in progress. Beyond these milestones, EFP has contributed to various initiatives, including the “Skills Initiatives 2030,” aimed at bolstering TVET systems, and the establishment of the Migrant Workers Rehabilitation Cell, facilitating the reintegration of returning migrants.”

He further said that we’ve launched the “Skills Development Employers Recognition Awards,” recognizing private sector investments in skills development. Our collaborations with TVET authorities and partners strengthen Industry-Academia Linkages, enhancing training quality and relevance. We’re actively engaged in policy development, launching awareness campaigns, and promoting harmonious industrial relations through bilateral dialogue under WEBCOP. EFP is also focusing on Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality and is in the process of developing the EFP Gender Equality Policy to promote equal opportunities, elimination of discrimination, and creating harassment-free work environments at the workplace.

“Looking ahead, our collaborative efforts within SARTUC and SAFE will remain focused on critical action points. We must engage in robust social dialogue and advocate with South Asian governments to ensure migration remains safe, ethical, and responsible in line with the SDGs and GCM framework. To uphold migrant workers’ rights, a thorough assessment of laws and recruitment practices is essential, aligning them with ILO principles. We should also initiate dialogues with Governments in our respective countries to use technology for the digital transformation of the migration process.”

Malik Tahir Javaid recommended to establish a Complaint Redressal Center in destination countries, coupled with the development of South Asian qualifications and standards. Furthermore, joint systems for skills identification and assessment should be nurtured to enhance our endeavors. A dedicated task force and technical committees will play a pivotal role in propelling our migration agenda forward. Through robust capacity building, we will empower trade unions and workers’ associations, equipping them with the necessary tools to engage constructively on matters of Occupational Safety and Health, Decent Work, and social justice. Together, these measures will undoubtedly pave the way for a more secure and equitable future of labor migration in South Asia.

Kathmandu: Malik Tahir Javaid, President Employers Federation of Pakistan, addressing at Protection and Welfare of South Asian Migrant Workers Conference organized by South Asian Regional Trade Union Council and South Asian Forum of Employers.

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