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Sub-regional Trade Union Conference on the role of trade unions in migration Baku, 27-28 April 2011. Sandra Vermuyten, CTA Migration Project, ILO Moscow. The ILO is the only United Nations agency with a constitutional

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sandra vermuyten cta migration project ilo moscow

Sub-regional Trade Union Conference on the role of trade unions in migration

Baku, 27-28 April 2011

Sandra Vermuyten, CTA Migration Project, ILO Moscow


The ILO is the only United Nations agency with a constitutional

mandate to protect migrant workers, and this mandate has been reaffirmed by the 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia and the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. It has been dealing with labour migration issues since its inception in 1919. It has pioneered international Conventions to guide migration policy and protection of migrant workers. All major sectors of the ILO - standards, employment, social protection and social dialogue - work on labour migration within its overarching framework of "decent work for all". ILO adopts a rights-based approach to labour migration and promotes tripartite participation (governments, employers and workers) in migration policy.


International migrants in 2010, estimated at 214 million, represent only 3 per cent of the global population.

Women make up almost 50 per cent of international migrants.

Migrant workers (those who migrate for employment) and their families account for about 90 per cent of total international migrants. Migration today is for work, and as such comes under the ILO’s overall Decent Work Agenda.

Economically active migrant workers number about 105 million in 2010.

These developments pose important challenges for the four pillars of labour migration policy: governance, protection, development and cooperation. The challenge is to govern migration so that it creates growth and prosperity in both origin and destination countries, while protecting and benefiting migrant workers themselves.


While major destination countries have liberalized admissions for skilled persons to some extent, doors remain closed for low- and semi-skilled persons, where developing countries have a surplus. This has three undesirable effects: serious brain drain from poor countries, the channelling of a large part of unmet demand to the irregular economy and reduced development benefits.

In destination countries, migration has rejuvenated populations and workforces, contributed to job creation, rendered traditional sectors such as agriculture and services economically viable, fostered entrepreneurship, supported social security and welfare schemes, satisfied the demand for skills in emerging high-tech industries and promoted urban renewal.


The evidence debunks a number of popular myths – for instance that migrant workers displace local workers, increase the crime rate and exploit public welfare systems.

Nonetheless, many migrant workers do not enjoy decent work, but instead suffer from low wages, unsafe working environments, non-payment of wages, a virtual absence of social protection, denial of freedom of association and workers’ rights, discrimination and xenophobia.

Migrant workers tend to be concentrated in economic sectors that are less attractive to native workers: agriculture, construction, labour-intensive manufacturing and services, including domestic work, hotel work and tourism.

These sectors include some of the most vulnerable migrant workers: women domestic workers, construction workers, workers with irregular status and trafficked persons.


Top 3 regions for migration (2010):

Europe (70 million), Asia (61 million), North America (50 million)

Top 3 countries for migration:

USA (42,8 million), Russia (12,3 million), Germany (10,8 million)

Top 3 sending countries:

China (35 million), India (20 million), The Philippines (7 million)

Azerbaijan was mostly a sending country until 2007
  • Destination countries are Russia, Ukraine, Belarus – in Russia mostly services and trade – brain-drain to other destinations in EU and US. Irregular migration
  • Now it is one of the 3 receiving countries in the region: Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazachstan
Migration = important factor in economic development of growing economies
  • Growing need for labour – lack of local workers
  • Need for modernization
  • Migrants fill both low-paid and expert jobs
  • Filling gaps in the labour market – demand for new services
Migrants can contribute to development by
  • Sending home remittances
  • Returning to their country and set up their own businesses
  • Use their new skills and experience in jobs in their own country
  • Contribute to more exchange between countries – demand/offer
Migration of people brings governments closer together to deal with migration flows:
  • Labour agreement with Russia Federation
  • Cooperation of Migration Agency with EU partners
  • Neighbouring agreements EU – Circular migration
Although migration flows are important in Azerbaijan, a lot of these migrants come or leave the country to work in informal employment
  • A majority of low-skilled workers are not aware of legislation and do not conform to basic rules
  • As a result risks of social dumping, exploitation and deportation, being a target for discrimination and harassment

Country of origin of migrants coming to Azerbaijan (2001-2009)

  • 62% Russia
  • 10% Georgia
  • 6% Ukraine
  • 6% Turkey
  • 4% Kazachstan
  • 12% Others

Country of destination for Azerbaijan citizens (2001-2009)

  • 83% Russia
  • 5% Ukraine
  • 4% Belarus
  • 4% Kazachstan
  • 4%Other

Why do you migrate:

- Insufficient money for food: 19%

- We can only buy food and some other things: 48%

- We can purchase normal food and clothing, but can’t afford a computer, refrigerator or TV set: 17%

- We can purchase expensive things, but can’t afford a personal car or an apartment/a house: 7%

Age Group:

Men: 20-35 years old

Women: 20-30 years old


Project outcomes:

- Migration Policy adopted by ATUC in December 2010

- Report on Migration and Development presented in November 2010

- Memorandum of Cooperation to be signed with FNPR Yekaterinburg, diaspora involved

- Association of private employment agencies was set up in December 2010, support provided (Ctd)

- ATUC migration centers set up and operational in Baku,Ganja, Lenkoran, Sumgayit.

- Government officials trained on bi-lateral labour agreements / ILO Multilateral Framework on Migration

- Wide distribution of ILO materials on migration, ILO Conventions and related materials / translated in national languages

- Trade Union Manual on Work with Migrants translated in national languages


Development of series of publications on legal migration to Russia, both training and information materials

- Information campaign ongoing in cooperation with ATUC

  • Support to ATUC National Migration Resource Centers (Baku,Sumgayit, Lenkoran, Ganja)

- Development and printings of Flyers for the migrants coming to Azerbaijan.

  • Close cooperation with Employment Services in dissemination of information materials in the urban and rural areas.
  • Provide Migration Situation Analysis in the proposed regions by partners

- Provide support for development of Labour Migration Statistics Data Base



  • Concentrate on link employment/migration
  • Protection of rights of migrant workers through bi-lateral agreements and ratification of ILO Conventions / TU action for migrant workers / social services for migrants in destination countries (focus on labour and social rights and integration)
  • Employment creation / vocational training / NQF – involvement employers
  • Capacity building of social partners on migration
  • Strengthen social dialogue on labour migration
  • Create more platforms for advocacy for social partners and their views
  • Promote East-East cooperation and South-South issues