Ensuring migrant voices in grievance and remediation mechanisms Generating feedback vital for compliance and due diligence
09:00 – 10:30 (Bangkok time, GMT+7), 3 June 2021
Organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO)
For a business to retain and enhance its human rights profile and fulfil its corporate social responsibilities, it must work to detect human rights issues early. It must also mitigate the risks migrant workers face within its value chains, improve labour relations and legal compliance to ensure high quality welfare, health, working and living conditions for these migrant workers along its value chain (Kotecha, 2021).
COVID-19 and its resulting unpredictability has created an asymetry in the supply and demand of migrant labour, increasing the risk of migrants experiencing exploitation and workplace grievances (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, 2021) (Lewry, 2020). Border restrictions have also introduced new barriers to regular migration, increasing the likelihood of migrants experiencing human and labour rights abuses (Yayboke, 2020).
Business can detect and address workplace grievances by implementing a remediation mechanism that seeks to understand migrants’ experiences and fairly, appropriately and effectively redress the harms migrants experience. To genuinely understand experiences and potential grievances throughout the employment cycle, it is important to ensure migrants’ participation in the remedy from beginning to end.
A functioning collective bargaining system can provide effective remediation mechanisms where permitted, with migrant worker voices heard through trade union representation within the system. However, sometimes unions are either not present or unable to represent migrants due to national labour laws, lack of union presence, or business reluctance. It is then important to explore alternative mechanisms to ensure migrant worker voices are present in the establishment and functioning of grievance mechanisms.
This session will explore how employers’ grievance and remediation mechanisms can be developed in a way that includes migrant workers in the design process. This form of inclusion ensures migrants’ voices are heard when they have a complaint to raise in the workplace.
It will share private sector experiences of designing and implementing such mechanisms, as well as how these mechanisms currently operate and the types of grievances migrant workers raise, both in general and in the COVID-19 context. It will present a migrant worker perspective on moving through the process to file a complaint using an employer’s grievance and remediation mechanism.
In some country contexts, there are legal obstacles to migrant workers’ participation in collective bargaining and trade union activities, and the session will explore how migrants can raise complaints and access remedy in such contexts.
These discussions will draw on the Operational Guidelines for Businesses on Remediation of Human Rights Grievances for Migrant Workers, developed by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Remedy Project. The sessions will explore the country contexts of Thailand and Malaysia in particular, responding to their respective legislative landscapes.
The key objectives of this session are to:
Launch the Operational Guidelines for Business on Remediation of Human Rights Grievances for Migrant Workers;
Raise awareness of stakeholders on the importance of migrant-centric and participatory grievance and remediation mechanism design through the sharing of challenges and good practices;
Explore the role of unions and collective bargaining in inclusive representation of migrant workers, and identify alternatives to representation when unions are not possible to ensure universal access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses.
Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
What factors contribute to a successful experience raising a complaint via a grievance and remediation mechanism? How do migrant workers experience this process, considering factors such as accessibility of hotlines and access to support from unions, non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations throughout?
How can migrants’ voices be included as grievance and remediation mechanisms are being designed?
What are the criteria for effective remediation programmes? What are the benefits for business?
How can migrants raise concerns themselves through grievance and remediation processes once they are operational?
How can migrant workers represent themselves in country contexts where there are legal obstacles to them participating in collective bargaining and trade union activities?
Additional Background Documents
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. (2021, April). COVID-19: Supply Chain Workers. Retrieved from Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/big-issues/covid-19-coronavirus-outbreak/supply-chain-workers/
Kotecha, A. (2021). Operational Guidelines for Businesses on Remediation of Human Rights Grievances for Migrant Workers. Geneva: International Organisation for Migration.
Lewry, J. (2020, April 7). COVID-19: The impact on workers in global supply chains. Retrieved from Control Risks: https://www.controlrisks.com/covid-19/the-impact-on-workers-in-global-supply-chains
Yayboke, E. (2020, March 25). Five Ways COVID-19 Is Changing Global Migration. Retrieved from Center for Strategic & International Studies: https://www.csis.org/analysis/five-ways-covid-19-changing-global-migration