Category Archives: MMN Activities

“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

    

MMN Releases Social Protection Across Borders: Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants’ Rights

As a network of migrant support organisations, grassroots movements, and research institutes from across the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) works to promote and protect the rights of migrant workers and their families. The collaborative research presented in this publication comes at a time when formal social protection schemes are taking shape across the GMS, and migrant workers from the region are travelling, in ever greater numbers, to countries where social protection programmes are well established. Access to social protection for this growing cross-border workforce requires an urgent policy response, as migrant workers risk being excluded or denied access to benefits and left insufficiently protected in terms of their life cycle needs.

The present research examines the role of GMS countries of origin in improving accesses to social protection programmes both at home and overseas. Focusing specifically on Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, it scrutinises the ways in which governments and other stakeholders from these countries of origin safeguard the social protection rights of their nationals, both when migrating abroad and upon return. The country-specific chapters that form the bulk of this study provides detailed analysis of the various law and policy frameworks currently in place, highlights policy gaps, and illustrates how these play out in real life through case studies of workers who have migrated to Thailand and Japan. In examining migrants’ access to social protection at home and abroad, a rigorous research methodology was employed, including desk research, key informant interviews, multi-stakeholder workshops and the collection of migrant case studies.

Published in September 2019. PDF is available here.

 

Press Release: The MMN welcomes commitments made by governments of CLMTV on the portability of social security for migrant workers

20 September 2019

Press Release: The MMN welcomes commitments made by governments of CLMTV on the portability of social security for migrant workers 

During a two-day Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin organised by the Mekong Migration Network (MMN), representatives of governments, recruitment agencies’ associations and Civil Society Organisations (CSO) from Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam jointly developed recommendations to enhance migrant workers’ access to various social protection schemes, including social security systems. 

From 16-17 September, representatives of governments, CSOs, 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 in Phnom Penh 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. The MMN welcomes commitments made by governments of CLMTV in this regard.

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”, 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.

Her Excellency Ms Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior, Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, noted in her keynote speech the importance of multilateral collaboration among countries of origin in protecting migrants’ rights. She stated, “We face common issues across countries of origin and need common solutions. Sometimes we can work separately, but the results are different when we collaborate to bring issues to destination countries.”

Ms Yin Yin Ohn, Deputy Director-General, Social Security Board, Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, Myanmar, remarked, “We recognise the importance of social protection for migrant workers…Myanmar is currently negotiating with destination countries such as Malaysia and Thailand to enable the portability of social security for Myanmar workers.”

During the Policy Dialogue, participants 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.

In order to better promote migrant workers’ access to social protection, participants collectively developed recommendations focusing on several aspects of the migration journey. 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.

About the Mekong Migration Network 

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN), founded in 2003, is a subregional network of migrant support NGOs, migrant grassroots groups and research institutes. The central goal of the MMN is to promote the welfare, well-being, dignity and human rights (especially labour, women’s and family rights) of migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), and to build mutual support and solidarity among migrants and advocates within the GMS. To achieve this goal, the MMN jointly carries out research, advocacy, capacity building and networking. For more information about the MMN, please visit www.mekongmigration.org


Contact Information

For more information about the Policy Dialogue, please contact: 

Reiko Harima, MMN Regional Coordinator, at reiko@mekongmigration.org (English or Japanese);

Sokchar Mom, Executive Director, Legal Support for Children and Women, Cambodia, at sokchar_mom@lscw.org (Khmer and English); 

Ms Thet Thet Aung, Director, Future Light Center, Myanmar, at thet2aung2012@gmail.com (Burmese);

Mr Brahm Press, Executive Director, MAP Foundation, Thailand, at brahm.press@gmail.com (English or Thai); and

Ms Trang Hoang, MMN Project Coordinator, at trang@mekongmigration.org (English or Vietnamese). 

Back to Top