ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MoOPHRD) has established an online complaint management system allowing migrant workers and overseas Pakistanis to submit legal complaints in cases where they face injustice during recruitment or employment.
Khizer Hayat Khan, Secretary, MoOPHRD will officially inaugurate the online complaint system here on February 10, along with Bernard Francois, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan and Ms. Belinda Chanda, Officer-in-Charge, International Labour Organization Country Office for Pakistan, said a press release.
The system will allow the complainant to track the status of his/her complaint upon submission. The online system will also increase the efficiency of the current complaints modality and ensure transparency in order to safeguard the interests of migrant workers.
Pakistan has a long history of labour migration to the Middle East, and in South Asia, it is the second largest labour sending country (after India). Between 1971-2015, more than 8 million Pakistanis have officially proceeded abroad for employment.
Migration from Pakistan reached a new peak after 2011. During the five years (2011-2015), more than 3 million people proceeded abroad for employment.
Out of this total labour migration about 96% have proceeded to the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states – the key country of destination being Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Significant numbers are also proceeding to Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. In terms of professions, in 2015, of all emigrants from Pakistan, 41 per cent were skilled, 16 per cent semi-skilled and 40 per cent un-skilled.
Less than 3 per cent were highly qualified or highly skilled.
The emigration of Pakistani women is negligible as only some 8,000 female workers have moved abroad for employment, primarily in the field of health services, finance sector, beautician field and fashion designing.
Migrant workers brings substantial benefits – remittances in origin countries and human capital in destination countries – the official channels for migration are failing to distribute the benefits equitably among employers, intermediaries and workers.
Abuses during recruitment and employment are common. It is well known that malpractices including high costs and fees, misrepresentation, failure to meet placement obligations and contract substitution are fairly common among licensed agencies.
Unidentified and unregistered sub agents in the recruitment business is another issue which further contributes to migrant workers vulnerabilities, human smuggling and trafficking.
To address these issues, a comprehensive, quick and transparent grievance handling mechanism is a need of the time to ensure migrant workers easy access to justice.
The ILO, in collaboration with European Union, is implementing a 3-year project title “Promoting the Effective Governance of Labour Migration from South Asia through Actions on Labour Market Information, Protection during Recruitment and Employment, Skills and Development Impact”.
The project aims to promote the management of labour migration from India, Nepal and Pakistan to the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), ensure effective protection of the rights of vulnerable migrant workers, enhance the development impact of labour migration and reduce unregulated migration.