Migrant Workers: Protection of Labour Rights and Labour Market Programs

Enforcement and awareness of labor legislation
Fight against discrimination
Working conditions
Labor migration
Labor inclusion of vulnerable groups
Event date: 
11/28/2006 to 11/29/2006
Host Country: 
  • To promote dialogue and cooperation among Ministries of Labour of the Americas on the protection of labour rights of migrant workers and on migration processes undertaken by States according to their national legal systems.
  • To share experiences and programs on the promotion and protection of labor rights of migrant workers and labour market programs, with special emphasis on Canada 's temporary foreign workers program.
  • To identify lessons learned and key guidelines for future inter-American action on this topic.

The Workshop “Migrant Workers: Protection of Labour Rights and Labour Market Programs”, which took place in Ottawa, Canada on November 28-29, 2006, was organized jointly by Human Resources and Social Development Canada and the Department of Social Development and Employment, SEDI of the Organization of American States (OAS).
The Workshop was an activity of the Inter-American Network for Labor Administration (RIAL), which is the cooperation mechanism of the OAS Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor (IACML). In its first stage the RIAL is funded by the Government of Canada, through its Labor Program.

The workshop was attended by representatives of the Ministries of Labor and other governmental institutions of 28 countries of the Americas , with the special participation of the Ministers of Labor of Paraguay and Canada . Also present were representatives from COSATE, CEATAL, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the North-South Institute and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, as well as various observers.
Relevant documents: 
PDF icon Agenda339.74 KB
PDF icon Agenda (French)235 KB
PDF icon List of Participants201.11 KB

Background and mandates:

The IV Summit of the Americas and the XIV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor (IACML) of the OAS reaffirmed “that all migrants, regardless of their immigration status, should be accorded the full protection of human rights and the full observance of labor laws applicable to them, including the principles and labor rights embodied in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998).” The Plan of Action of the IV Summit established the commitment to strengthen constructive dialogue on international migration and to establish collaboration mechanisms among countries so as to disseminate information on labor rights of migrant workers.
Additionally, the Plan of Action of the XIV IACML calls upon the Ministries of Labor to address the labor rights of migrant workers as one of the priority themes to be addressed within the framework of the promotion of decent work, and commits to “develop activities that promote decent work for migrant workers in the context of the Declaration of Nuevo Leon and in collaboration with the Inter-American Program adopted by the General Assembly in resolution AG/RES. 2141.”
With these mandates as guidelines and having confirmed the interest of various countries in sharing experiences on this topic, the authorities of the IACML during the Planning Meeting in December, 2005 decided to hold a workshop on the labour rights of migrant workers, to be hosted by HRSDC.


Welcome remarks and introduction

The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Labour of Canada
Eduardo Velasquillo, Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare of Mexico, Chair pro tempore of the XIV IACML
Francisco Pilotti, Director of the Department of Social Development and Employment of the Organization of American States, IACML Technical Secretariat

Labor migration: Framing the issue

Overview of Labor Migration in the region, presented by Virgilio Levaggi, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean
Recommendations from experts on what can be done to protect the labour rights of migrant workers and which are the key actors, presented by Heather Gibb, Senior Researcher from the North South Institute
Open dialogue

Strengthening the capacity of the Ministries of Labor: Innovative initiatives to promote and protect the labour rights of migrant workers

MEXICO - Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program Mexico-Canada and protection provided by Consulates to Mexican workers abroad, presented by Hernán Ruiz Bravo, Legal Affairs Counsellor, Embassy of Mexico in Canada
UNITED STATES - United States Department of Labor programs and initiatives to protect the labor rights of migrant workers, by William Lesser, Deputy Associate Solicitor for Fair Labor Standards, Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor
Open dialogue
ECUADOR - Dialogue and consensus-building on rights of migrants and their families: The Working Table for Labor Migrations of Ecuador, by Oscar Izquierdo, First Secretary of the Embassy of Ecuador in Canada
BRAZIL - The Brazilian experience on the tripartite management of labor migration and the role of the Ministry of Labor, by Nilton Freitas, Chair of the National Migration Council and Aldo Filho, Coordinator of Migration Office, Ministry of Labor and Employment of Brazil.
PERU - Agreements signed by Peru on articulation of social security systems, by Claudia Canales, Minister’s Chief of Staff and Guillermo Miranda, Director of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion of Peru
Open dialogue

The Canadian experience on labor market programs that manage temporary migrant worker flows and protect migrant workers rights

Labour market trends: An overview of the Foreign Workers Program (FWP) main components, and future program initiatives, by James Sutherland, Director, Foreign Worker Program, Human Resources and Social Development Canada
An overview of the criteria used to issue work permits, by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), by Les Linklater, Director General, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Immigration Branch
Protecting migrant workers’ rights in Canada, by Kevin Banks, Director General, Labour Policy and Workplace Information, the Labour Program, Human Resources and Social Development Canada
Open dialogue

Continuation of Innovative initiatives to promote and protect the labour rights of migrant workers

COSTA RICA - Labor Migration in Costa Rica, by Oscar Vargas, Economist, Labor Migration Unit, Ministry of Labor and Social Security of Costa Rica
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - Migration Challenges in the Context of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), by Ashford Sankar, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development of Trinidad & Tobago
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS - Presentation from St. Kitts & Nevis, by Lenard Spencer Amory, Acting Labour Commissioner, Ministry of National Security, Immigration and Labour
Open dialogue focusing on lessons learned from the initiatives presented

Perspectives from social actors

Business Technical Advisory Committee on Labor Matters (CEATAL) - Jacqueline Coke-Lloyd, Executive Director, Jamaica Employers Federation
Trade Union Technical Advisory Council (COSATE) - Salvador Medina, President of COSATE and Under-Secretary of Mexican Workers Confederation

Closing session

Conclusions: Lessons learned and key guidelines for future action presented by Francisco Pilotti, Director of the Department of Social Development and Employment of the OAS
Open dialogue regarding the conclusions
Final remarks by Anthony Giles, Director General, International and Intergovernmental Labour Affairs, the Labour Program, Human Resources and Social Development Canada, HRSDC


During the Closing Session, the Technical Secretariat presented a draft of the Workshop Summary, that was further reviewed and enriched by the delegations.  This summary also contains a set of proposals for future work that the participants of the Workshop are presenting for the consideration of the IACML Working Groups during their meeting in May, 2007 in Costa Rica.

Support Information

Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, including Migrant Workers and their Families. Organization of American States.

Documents from international organizations

ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration: Non-binding Principles and Guidelines for a Rights-based Approach to Labour Migration. ILO Geneva , adopted on Oct-Nov 2005.
Compromiso de Montevideo sobre Migraciones y Desarrollo de los Jefes de Estado y de Gobierno de la Comunidad Iberoamericana, XVI Cumbre Iberoamericana.
Geronimi, Eduardo; Cachón, Lorenzo; y Texidó, Ezequiel (2004). Acuerdos bilaterales de migración de mano de obra: Estudio de casos. Estudios sobre migraciones laborales, OIT Ginebra.
López Espinosa, Mario (2002). Remesas de mexicanos en el exterior y su vinculación con el desarrollo económico, social y cultural de sus comunidades de origen. Estudios sobre migraciones laborales, OIT Ginebra.
Martin, Philip (2006). Managing Labor Migration: Temporary Worker Programmes for the 21 st Century. Population Division, Depart ment of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat
O'Neil, Kevin; Hamilton, Kimberly; and Papademetrious, Demetrious (2005). Migration in the Americas. Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM).
Pienkos, Andrew (2006). Caribbean Labour Migration: Minimizing Losses and Optimizing Benefits. ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean.
Texidó, Ezequiel; et.al . (2003). Migraciones laborales en Sudamérica: el Mercosur ampliado. Estudios sobre migraciones laborales, OIT Ginebra.
Thomas-Hope, Elizabeth (2002). Skilled Labour Migration from Developing Countries: Study on the Caribbean Region. International Migration Papers, ILO Geneva.

Press Information

Article from Caribbean Net News - Nov. 28, 2006