Category Archives: MMN Activities

MMN Releases Proceedings of the Consultation on Labour Migration from Vietnam to Japan

On 24 July 2019, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) organised the Consultation Meeting on Labour Migration from Vietnam to Japan in Hanoi, Vietnam. The consultation provided a platform for representatives of different stakeholder groups to exchange information about recruitment procedures from Vietnam to Japan, and jointly explore interventions and strategies to improve protections provided to migrant workers. The workshop was organised in anticipation of increased labour migration from Vietnam to Japan as Japan seeks to plug gaps in its rapidly shrinking labour force. Under the Technical Internship Training Programme (TITP), Vietnam is Japan’s largest source of migrant workers, and numbers are expected to increase following the Japanese government’s announcement that it intends to welcome an additional 345,000 migrant workers within five years. To facilitate this policy change, Japan amended its strict immigration laws and added a new “Specified Skilled Worker” (SSW) visa category. In July 2019, Japan signed a bilateral Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Vietnam to facilitate the implementation of the new scheme.

Given these developments, MMN gathered a diverse group of over 50 participants to exchange views, including representatives of the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam, the Department of Overseas Labour (DOLAB) under the Ministry of Labour-Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) in Vietnam, the Vietnam Association of Manpower and Supply (VAMAS), intergovernmental organisations, civil society organisations (CSO), and recruitment agencies.

The day’s plenaries addressed a number of topics, including challenges faced by migrant workers throughout the migration cycle, issues related to high recruitment fees involved in migration from Vietnam to Japan, international standards on the collection of recruitment fees and other related costs, the roles of the governments of Vietnam and Japan and recruitment agencies in supporting migrant workers, and the trajectories and concerns surrounding migration to Japan under the newly created SSW scheme. Following the plenaries, participants discussed the opportunities and challenges involved in the migration of workers from Vietnam to Japan, specifically the themes of developing human resources, achieving decent work, and facilitating ethical recruitment practices. The consultation ended with participants collectively developing recommendations to improve existing migration mechanisms, improve channels of information dissemination, enhance international cooperation, and expand support for migrant returnees.

Click here to read the full proceedings.

MMN Releases Proceedings of the Workshop on Labour Migration from Mekong Countries to Japan

On July 8, 2019, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) held a multi-stakeholder workshop on Labour Migration from Mekong Countries to Japan in Tokyo, Japan. The workshop was organised in anticipation of increased labour migration from Mekong countries, as Japan seeks to plug gaps in its rapidly shrinking labour force. Under the current Technical Internship Training Programme (TITP), a significant proportion of migrant workers in Japan originate from Vietnam (72,637), Myanmar (3,692), and Cambodia (3,328).1 These relatively modest numbers are expected to increase rapidly following the Japanese government’s announcement that it intends to welcome an additional 345,000 migrant workers within five years. To facilitate this policy change, Japan amended its strict immigration laws and added a new “Specified Skilled Worker” (SSW) visa category. Japan also signed bilateral Memoranda of Cooperation (MoC) with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar to facilitate the implementation of the new scheme.

Given these developments, MMN gathered more than 35 stakeholders to address potential challenges and opportunities from the perspectives of Japan as well as countries of origin in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Participants included representatives from the Embassy of Vietnam in Japan, the Vietnam Association of Manpower Supply (VAMAS), the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA), the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF), inter-governmental organisations, recruitment agencies, and civil society organisations (CSOs) in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Japan, as well as academic experts on labour migration.

The two plenary sessions at the workshop touched on a number of topics from the perspectives of Japan and countries of origin, including: legal frameworks and recruitment practices in different countries of origin; labour rights violations in Japan; migrants’ experiences in pre-departure and post-arrival training; restrictive conditions under the TITP visa status; migrants’ reproductive rights; the work of CSOs and associations of recruitment agencies in countries of origin in supporting migrant workers throughout the migration cycle; the feasibility of adopting the “Zero Recruitment Fees” model for migration to Japan; and the continued presence of illegal intermediaries involved in the migration process.

Click here for the full proceedings.

“Jobs in SEZs: Migrant garment factory workers in the Mekong region” is now available online

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) and Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), jointly implemented a research and advocacy project from 2016 to 2019, investigating labour and migration issues in Mekong SEZs through a gendered lens. Guided by the question of whether the jobs being created within these zones are promoting decent work for women migrant workers, this study developed four case studies of SEZs: Thilawa SEZ (Yangon Region, Myanmar), Phnom Penh SEZ (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), Manhattan SEZ (Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia), and Tak SEZ (Tak Province, Thailand), with a particular focus on the garment industry.

From May 2017 to July 2018, MMN project partners surveyed garment factory workers across the four study areas. 700 respondents completed a questionnaire – 200 each in Yangon, Tak, and Phnom Penh, respectively, and an additional 100 respondents in Svay Rieng. In Yangon and Phnom Penh, where garment factories are clustered in peri-urban industrial areas outside of SEZs, the questionnaire was carried out with workers employed both inside and outside of the SEZs in order to compare workers’ experiences. Between July 2018 and February 2019, in-depth interviews with select women garment factory workers, along with key informant interviews with representatives of governments, SEZ management committees, employer associations, factory owners, trade unions, and civil society organisations, were conducted in each location.

Based on the results of an analysis of the study’s primary data as well as a thorough literature review, four key themes emerged as requiring special attention in order to realise decent work for women migrant garment factory workers in Mekong SEZs. These areas were: working conditions, labour organising, skills development and recognition, and care work. The impact of SEZ development on workers’ mobility was also highlighted in an analysis of these themes.

Published in July 2019. The PDF of the report is available here.

For policy briefs available in Burmese, English, Khmer and Thai, please visit here.

Policy Briefs of “Jobs in SEZs: Migrant garment factory workers in the Mekong region” is now available

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) and Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), supported by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), jointly implemented a research and advocacy project from 2016 to 2019, investigating labour and migration issues in Mekong SEZs through a gendered lens. Guided by the question of whether the jobs being created within these zones are promoting decent work for women migrant workers, this study developed four case studies of SEZs: Thilawa SEZ (Yangon Region, Myanmar), Phnom Penh SEZ (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), Manhattan SEZ (Svay Rieng Province, Cambodia), and Tak SEZ (Tak Province, Thailand), with a particular focus on the garment industry.

From May 2017 to July 2018, MMN project partners surveyed garment factory workers across the four study areas. 700 respondents completed a questionnaire – 200 each in Yangon, Tak, and Phnom Penh, respectively, and an additional 100 respondents in Svay Rieng. In Yangon and Phnom Penh, where garment factories are clustered in peri-urban industrial areas outside of SEZs, the questionnaire was carried out with workers employed both inside and outside of the SEZs in order to compare workers’ experiences. Between July 2018 and February 2019, in-depth interviews with select women garment factory workers, along with key informant interviews with representatives of governments, SEZ management committees, employer associations, factory owners, trade unions, and civil society organisations, were conducted in each location.

Based on the results of an analysis of the study’s primary data as well as a thorough literature review, four key themes emerged as requiring special attention in order to realise decent work for women migrant garment factory workers in Mekong SEZs. These areas were: working conditions, labour organising, skills development and recognition, and care work. The impact of SEZ development on workers’ mobility was also highlighted in an analysis of these themes.

The policy brief of the Mekong Region is available in Burmese, English, Khmer and Thai;

The policy brief of Thailand is available in Burmese, English and Thai;

The policy brief of Myanmar is available in Burmese and English; and

The policy brief of Cambodia is available in English and Khmer.

For the main report please visit.

 

MMN Holds the Second Policy Dialogue on Roles of Countries of Origin to Launch “Social Protection Across Borders”

From 16-17 September, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) organised the second Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. More than 40 representatives from governments, Civil Society Organisations (CSO), recruitment agencies’ associations from Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, the Embassies of the Republic of the Philippines and Japan in Phnom Penh and intergovernmental organisations gathered to hear research findings from the MMN’s most recent publication and discuss how countries of origin can expand their role in enhancing migrants’ access to social protection across borders. The Policy Dialogue took place in tandem with a Labour Ministerial Conference held on 17 September in Siem Reap between governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (CLMTV) aimed at creating a joint framework on the portability of social security for migrant workers in CLMTV.

Between 2018 and 2019, the MMN conducted a research project to examine current efforts in countries of origin, namely Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, to facilitate migrant workers’ access to social protection throughout the migration cycle and highlight migrants’ experiences in accessing these mechanisms. The resulting study, entitled, “Social Protection Across Borders: Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants’ Rights”, is based on case studies of migrant workers currently in Thailand, migrant returnees in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam and interviews with government officials, CSOs and recruitment agencies’ associations. The report highlights recurring issues faced by migrant workers across the three countries in accessing social protection schemes in destination countries and at home.

In her opening remarks, Her Excellency Ms Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior, Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, noted the importance of multilateral collaboration between countries of origin to address common issues and concerns faced by migrant workers in the region. Ms Yin Yin Ohn, Deputy Director-General, Social Security Board, Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, Myanmar, also believed that enhanced international cooperation is necessary as migration is “multi-dimensioned, complex and involves cross-border and cross-cutting issues.” Regarding migrant workers’ access to social protection, she reported that the Myanmar government is currently negotiating with the governments of Thailand and Malaysia to enable the portability of social security for migrant workers. 

In the following seven panels of the Policy Dialogue, the MMN presented its key findings along with recommendations for governments and recruitment agencies of countries of origin to enhance migrant workers’ access to social protection. In the discussion, participants also addressed a number of topics, including the current initiatives by different stakeholders to disseminate information relating to social protection schemes of destination countries, types of support available to migrant workers by embassies and diplomatic missions, the roles and responsibilities of recruitment agencies in assisting migrant workers’ access to social protection and the current progress regarding the establishment of mechanisms to support portable social security between destination countries and countries of origin. 

At the end of each day, participants of the Policy Dialogue broke into groups consisting of a cross-section of representatives from governments, CSOs and recruitment agencies’ associations to discuss existing gaps in policies and practices to support access to social protection, specifically under the themes of “migration mechanisms”, “information dissemination”, “overseas assistance”, “roles and responsibilities of recruitment agencies”, “international cooperation”, “assistance upon return” and “social security in countries of origin”. Based on the results of the discussion, participants collectively developed a set of recommendations to address identified gaps and improve access to social protection. Key recommendations for governments of countries of origin include:

  • Ensuring information relevant to migrant workers’ benefits and rights is available, understandable and accessible; 
  • Enhancing cooperation between Labour Attachés/Counsellors and different stakeholders, such as CSOs, in order to strengthen migrant workers’ access to social protection; 
  • Effectively monitoring recruitment agencies to make sure they comply with legal standards; and 
  • Encouraging recruitment agencies to adopt and uphold industry Codes of Conduct. 

In the long term, countries of origin should ensure uninterrupted and transferrable social protection regardless of migrants’ location of work; encourage the formation of a subcommittee under the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers to establish a framework for the portability of social protection; develop inclusive social protection schemes that migrants can voluntarily participate in and access when abroad; and establish flexible money transfer systems enabling migrants to contribute to social protection schemes through digital systems. Countries of origin should also take steps towards establishing a welfare fund for migrants in their respective countries at the appropriate time.

Over the course of the two-day Policy Dialogue, participants recognised the need for continued cross-country and multistakeholder collaboration to further enhance migrants’ access to social protection and better safeguard their rights. The MMN thanks all participants for their contributions to an engaging discussion.

Participants of the Second Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin

Her Excellency Ms Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior, Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, delivers a keynote speech at the Policy Dialogue

Ms Yin Yin Ohn, Deputy Director-General, Social Security Board, Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, Myanmar, delivers a keynote speech at the Policy Dialogue

A panel on information dissemination at the Policy Dialogue

A panel on international cooperation at the Policy Dialogue

A small group discussion at the Policy Dialogue

A participant presents on some of the gaps in existing policies and practices, along with recommendations, to disseminate information to migrant workers

    

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