Pre-GFMD Civil society consultation Sri Lanka 2016

Pre-GFMD Civil society consultation held in Sri Lanka in December, 2016

Minoli Don, Project Officer - Knowledge Management, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Sri Lanka​​​

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation (HELVETAS) together with the Solidarity Centre organised a pre-GFMD civil society Consultation on the 1st December, 2016 with a view to obtaining inputs from individuals and civil society organisations working at the grassroots level for the protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families. HELVETAS is curre​ntly implementing the Labour Migration Project in Sri Lanka (LMPSL) funded by the Swiss Government.

This event was attended by a number of representatives from civil society organisations, legal experts, journalists and concerned individuals. It further served as a forum for the civil society representatives who have been selected to attend GFMD to come together and discuss issues in the sphere of labour migration prevalent in the national and regional contexts and to identify key issues to be raised during GFMD Civil society days on 8th and 9th December, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.   

Sri Lankan migrant workers, through their remittances contribute substantially to the national economy. An estimated 1.7 million Sri Lankans are employed abroad impacting nearly 25% of the country’s population. Therefore, protection of migrant workers becomes pivotal in the labour migration process. As the current Chair of the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Sri Lanka is in a unique position to shape the discourse based on its own experience and expertise.

The recommendations made by civil society during the Civil society consultation held in Sri Lanka mainly focused on the areas of promoting fair and ethical recruitment, reducing migration costs, protecting migrants in all situations and principles, institutions and processes for safe, orderly and regular migration. The following important recommendations were made during the pre-GFMD civil society consultation held in Sri Lanka: 
  • Develop a common policy for the elimination of excessive recruitment fees.
  • Eliminate induced migration.
  • Take measures to reduce transaction costs for remittances to less than 3% as per SDG recommendations.
  • Develop standar​ised employment contracts as a tool to promote and protect migrant workers.
  • Develop a common position on minimum wages and non-discrimination in payment of equal wages and benefits for equal work.
  • Develop a curriculum for pre-departure orientation for the region which the individual countries can adopt to suit their context.
  • Negotiate bilateral agreements/upgrade existing bilateral agreements and MoUs with countries of destination which include terms of employment and other protection measures in line with international human and labour rights standards.
  • Hold discussions with countries of destination to promote electronic Wage Protection Systems as a mandatory requirement of terms of employment.
  • Strengthen and amend national laws on labour migration in line with the provisions of the International Convention on the rights of Migrant workers (ICRMW) and National Labour Migration Policy in consultation with all stakeholders to uphold the rights of migrant workers and better regulate recruitment processes.

The Civil society consultation held in Sri Lanka further enabled the Sri Lankan participants of GFMD to reflect on the civil society recommendations and actively contribute to the civil society dialogue at GFMD in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The recommendations made during this consultation were formally conveyed to Government officials by a civil society representative during the pre-GFMD meeting facilitated by ILO for Government officials and relevant LMPSL stakeholders on 6th December, 2016.