Category Archives: Organized by MMN

The Mekong Migration Network and Clean Clothes Campaign co-organise a series of back-to-back workshops on the global garment industry

In January 2018, the Mekong Migration Network and Clean Clothes Campaign joined forces to co-organise a series of back-to-back workshops on the global garment industry with a particular focus on the garment-producing country of Myanmar (Burma).

Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is a global alliance of trade unions and NGOs, based in both garment-producing and consuming markets, that are dedicated to improving working conditions and empowering workers in the garment industry. CCC works in solidarity with organised garment factory workers to develop concrete cases of labour rights violations and execute campaign strategies to pressure companies and governments to ensure that the rights of these workers are implemented and respected.

In collaboration with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), MMN is conducting a research and advocacy project exploring the policies and practices of the garment industry operating in industrial zones and Special Economic Zones in Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. The project will investigate how these particular environments impact cross-border and internal women migrant workers’ working and living conditions, life choices, participation in collective action, and relationship with local communities.

In recognition of the rapid expansion of Myanmar’s export-oriented garment industry and the subsequent need to better understand the challenges facing workers in this sector, MMN and CCC co-hosted a workshop and network exchange on 15 and 16 January in Yangon. On 15 January, 21 representatives from Yangon-based trade unions and civil society organisations, as well as 9 people representing trade unions and organisations from Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Thailand, and the Netherlands, gathered at Sagawa Meeting Spaces to participate in the MMN/CCC Garment Worker Labour Rights Workshop. By means of interactive presentations, group discussions, and activities, participants exchanged information on the key challenges facing garment factory workers and labour rights activists in their countries as well as strategies used to promote and protect the rights of these workers.

On 16 January, 6 trade union and CSO representatives from Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Norway joined the previous day’s participants for the MMN/CCC Network Exchange. This meeting carved a space for Myanmar unions and organisations to share information on the garment industry in Myanmar, the challenges being faced by Yangon garment factory workers, and the interests and priorities of unions and labour organisations. The meeting provided an opportunity for Myanmar organisations to better understand the workings of MMN and CCC respectively, as well as develop partnerships with likeminded groups in other countries.

Following a fruitful exchange, CCC network members and MMN project partners relocated to Bangkok to partake in a three-day CCC Urgent Appeals Global Meeting. From 17-19 January, around 60 people from over 20 countries across Asia, Europe, and North America met to review, evaluate, and improve upon CCC’s internal campaigning system. During the meeting, the MMN Secretariat made a presentation on the implications of Special Economic Zones for workers in the Greater Mekong Subregion as part of a series of presentations on global trends affecting the garment industry. The MMN Secretariat and project partners also had an opportunity to present an overview of the joint MMN-AIT research project and seek feedback on advocacy strategies from members of CCC.

While wearied from organising and participating in consecutive meetings, MMN project partners and Secretariat members departed Bangkok feeling inspired by the momentum of the CCC network and the possibility of joining forces again in the future to advocate for the protection of the rights of garment factory workers in the Mekong.

       

The Second Project Consultation Meeting for an MMN-AIT Joint Project on Special Economic Zones and the Garment Industry

In collaboration with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), MMN is conducting a research and advocacy project exploring the policies and practices of the garment industry operating in industrial zones and Special Economic Zones in Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. The project is investigating how these particular environments impact cross-border and internal women migrant workers’ working and living conditions, life choices, participation in collective action, and relationship with local communities.

On 13 and 14 January 2018, MMN project partners and Secretariat members, AIT project personnel, and resources persons congregated at Sagawa Meeting Spaces in Yangon, Myanmar, for the Second Project Consultation Meeting. The objectives of the meeting were: (1) for project partners to share information on the progress of the research and reflect on key issues and challenges; (2) to jointly review and analyse preliminary findings from data collection activities; (3) to jointly discuss future data collection activities, including in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews; (4) to jointly discuss advocacy targets and strategies; and (5) to jointly draft a work plan and review the budget for the remainder of the project.

From November 2016 to February 2017, preliminary studies were conducted in each of the five study sites: Yangon, Mae Sot, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Bavet. During these studies, local research teams and representatives of the MMN Secretariat and AIT jointly discussed the project’s core research questions, methodology, and benefits, and conducting preliminary interviews with key informants, including government officials and zone management committees, and garment factory workers to better understand the context of each area.

Based on a review of relevant literature, internal meeting discussions, and the preliminary studies, garment factory worker questionnaires were drafted and translated, and enumerator trainings were conducted with local research teams. With 200 questionnaires in the process of being completed with workers in each study site, translated, encoded and analysed, project partners, the MMN Secretariat, and AIT looked to the next phase of the project. Moving forward, MMN partners, Secretariat members, and AIT will work together to conduct in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with workers, carry out additional key informant interviews, draft a final report and country-specific policy briefs, present initial findings at a joint multi-stakeholder meeting, and launch the report and recommendations at provincial-level stakeholder meetings within the course of this year.

         

Highlights of the MMN Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin

Highlights of the MMN Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin, held in Yangon on the 20-21 July 2017.

For proceedings of the MMN Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin are being finalized, please visit our website later again for update information.

MMN’s new report, “Safe from the Start: Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants”, now available in Burmese, English, and Khmer. Please click on the links below to download the full report.

English version: Safe from the Start_English

Khmer version: Safe from the Start_Khmer

Burmese version: Safe from the Start_Burmese

MMIN in media: Migrant worker protections ‘lacking’, reports find ( Phnom Penh Post)

Cambodian migrant workers who were deported by Thai authorities are processed at the Poipet Transit Centre earlier this month in Banteay Meanchey province. Sahiba Chawdhary

Cambodia lacks effective mechanisms to protect its citizens working both as legal and undocumented migrants abroad, where such workers also face insufficient protection from the countries that receive them, according to two new reports published last week.

The reports come at a time of major crackdowns on undocumented migrants in the region. Thousands of Cambodians have returned home after Thailand passed new laws imposing strict punishments on undocumented workers and their employers, while Malaysia has arrested thousands of workers since July 1 in a campaign against undocumented migrants.

Mekong Migration Network’s (MMN) report Safe from the Start – The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants found in interviews with Cambodian migrant workers that the Kingdom needs to better regulate its recruitment agencies, reduce costs and time for legal migration channels, provide better overseas assistance and establish effective complaint mechanisms. They also recommend strengthening predeparture training.

Reiko Harima, MMN regional coordinator, said in an email that “the most urgent tasks for Cambodia are to improve overseas assistance, and also to negotiate with Thailand to improve conditions for migrant workers”.

“[Migrants] reported to MMN that when they have approached embassies for help, they were not given assistance,” she said. What’s more, she added, “Cambodian migrants leaving Thailand experience difficulty securing the social security benefits that they are entitled to, as there is no practical mechanism for the transfer of money.”

In a push to document migrant workers in Thailand, Cambodia’s Labour Ministry in a statement yesterday clarified the procedure: Thai employers have to register their undocumented Cambodian workers by August 7 at one of the 97 newly established offices in Thailand, where Cambodians workers then have to present themselves between August 8 and September 9. Until December 31, workers “must not change the employer or locations, or resign without permission”.

Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour in a Facebook video on Sunday said the procedure benefited the workers, who would “get the salary based on the law of Thailand, get health and life insurance during the work and get the National Social Security from the Thai government”.

But Moeun Tola, director of labour rights group Central, yesterday said that this was insufficient. “It’s not effective enough yet, since some employers prefer hiring undocumented workers instead of documented ones,” he said.

However, Cambodia doesn’t bear sole responsibility for protecting its migrants, according to a report titled Towards a Comprehensive National Policy on Labour Migration for Malaysia.

The Migrant Workers Right to Redress Coalition expressed concern regarding recruitment processes – which they say have to be formalised and regulated better – and a number of other issues facing migrant workers, including Cambodians, in Malaysia.

“[There] is no comprehensive national policy on labour migration, to ensure . . . that abuses against workers, social dislocation, profiteering, human trafficking and modern day slavery are rooted out and stopped,” it reads.

Adrian Pereira, a coordinator for the North-South Initiative who was involved in the drafting of the paper, said in a message that the most urgent concern was that agreements between Cambodia and Malaysia and workers’ contracts should “guarantee basic rights of workers at all stages of recruitment to employment to return”. “Only when rights [are] in black and white can we ensure [they are] materialised and not based on ‘good will’ of any party.”

These rights include decent salaries, working hours, vacation days and more, he said.

Tan Heang-Lee, communications’ officer at Women’s Aid Organisation Malaysia, said that women were particularly vulnerable. “There must be greater recognition of domestic work as work, and of domestic workers as employees,” she said. “Migrant domestic workers are excluded from many of the protections and provisions of the Employment Act.”

 

By: Leonie Kijewski and Soth Koemsoeun, Phnom Penh Post

Published on: 25 July 2017

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: MMN’s Policy Dialogue results in the governments of Myanmar and Cambodia vowing to collaborate to protect migrants

24 July 2017

During the Mekong Migration Network’s (MMN) two-day Policy Dialogue on the Roles of Countries of Origin, representatives of the Cambodian and Myanmar governments vowed to meet to discuss recommendations to jointly advocate to the government of Thailand for greater protection of migrant workers. The act of collaboration was prompted by Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, and Permanent Deputy Chair of the National Committee For Counter Trafficking, who also agreed to host the meeting before 17 December 2017.

From 20-21 July, MMN, a sub-regional network of civil society organisations (CSOs) and research institutes, held a Policy Dialogue at the Summit Parkview hotel in Yangon, Myanmar. Representatives of the Cambodian and Myanmar governments, private recruitment agencies, the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, ILO, IOM, and CSOs from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the Philippines gathered to hear research findings and recommendations from MMN’s most recent project and publication, and discuss the roles countries of origin – particularly Cambodia and Myanmar – should play in protecting their nationals migrating abroad.

From April 2015 to May 2017, MMN conducted a research project to review the labour migration governance mechanisms of countries of origin, including national policies, common practices, and international standards. Through consultation meetings with 162 migrant workers in Thailand and returnees in Cambodia and Myanmar, along with interviews with Cambodian and Myanmar government officials, inter-governmental organisations, and recruitment agencies, the study analysed the policies and practices of these two origin countries.

MMN’s study also investigated measures put in place by the Philippines and Indonesia to protect their nationals migrating abroad. Through a case study analysis of Filipino and Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, the study gleaned information on both effective and ineffective labour migration governance mechanisms, which aided MMN’s development of recommendations posed to the governments of Cambodia and Myanmar.

Director General U Win Shein of Myanmar’s Department of Labour under the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, opened the Policy Dialogue declaring, “countries of origin should work to reduce the time and bureaucracy required for the migration process, provide education and information, improve the quality of life of migrants, and ultimately aim to reduce poverty for migrants…We want to collaborate and get recommendations from different sectors, as well as listen to one another through positive and active communication so that we can provide better resources to protect migrant workers.”

Her Excellency Ms. Chou Bun Eng, the Secretary of State of Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, and Permanent Deputy Chair of the National Committee For Counter Trafficking, called for fairer collaboration between origin and destination countries, especially given that origin countries often “run behind the decisions of destination countries like Thailand.” She explained that Cambodia “tries our best to overcome these complicated issues, however, Cambodia alone cannot solve the problem successfully.”

International Labour Organization Chief Technical Advisor Ms. Jackie Pollock reminded participants, “without a long-term vision for migration patterns, migration may lead to the stagnation of development with young people leaving the country taking their labour, ideas, and innovations with them. On the other hand, national and regional development policies, whether they are social and economic plans, rural development, or women’s empowerment, could embrace migration as one of the strategies to stimulate development, nationally and regionally.”

In order to better protect and promote the rights of migrant workers, MMN recommends that relevant Cambodian and Myanmar authorities:

  1. Institute migration mechanisms through which prospective migrants can obtain necessary documents for migration without excessive bureaucracy, cost, or travel;
  2. Establish effective complaint mechanisms which are accessible to all migrants both in destination countries and upon return, and facilitate the use of local complaint mechanisms where appropriate;
  3. Negotiate with and advocate to destination countries to improve conditions for migrant workers;
  4. Make greater efforts to disseminate information on safe migration, migration options, and alternatives to migration throughout the country;
  5. Provide meaningful regulation of recruitment agencies; not merely through the passing of laws and regulations, but effective monitoring and enforcement, including sanctions for non-compliance;
  6. Improve the quality and expand the delivery of pre-departure training so that all formal migrants go through effective and thorough training before deployment;
  7. Improve overseas assistance;
  8. Negotiate with the Thai government to develop a process whereby migrants can receive a lump sum payment for their retirement fund at the Social Security Office in Thailand; and
  9. Assist migrant worker returnees with social and economic integration, including making alternatives to re-migration available; assisting with processes such as household registration and registration for identity cards; and supporting returnees who have suffered occupational injuries or diseases.

 

MMN’S PUBLICATION: Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants

To access MMN’s latest publication, Safe from the Start: The Roles of Countries of Origin in Protecting Migrants, in English, Burmese, or Khmer, please visit:

 

ABOUT THE MEKONG MIGRATION NETWORK

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN) is a sub-regional network of CSOs and research institutes that has been working towards the protection and promotion of migrants’ rights in the Mekong Sub-region since 2001. MMN members operate in both countries of origin and destination, and have unique expertise in the field and close contact with migrant workers at a grassroots level. MMN also has regular dialogue with government stakeholders in Cambodia and Myanmar, which prompted the present in-depth study on the roles of countries of origin.

For more information about MMN, please visit our webpage at: www.mekongmigration.org.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

For more information about the project, publication, or policy dialogue, please contact:

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