Migrant workers and social security challenges

Wednesday, 2018-09-19 16:12:17
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Speakers at the discussion session. (Photo: NDO)
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NDO – The Fourth Industrial Revolution has created favourable conditions for the labour migration between countries, but such a positive signal in the labour market has also posed multiple challenges to the implementation of social security policies and ensuring the rights of migrant workers.

The aforementioned statement was delivered by experts at a discussion session, entitled “Free labour migration in ASEAN member nations and developing countries”, in Khanh Hoa province’s Nha Trang city on September 18, which is part of the 35th Board Meeting of the ASEAN Social Security Association (ASSA).

Addressing the event, Mohammed Azman, a member of the Malaysian Social Security Organisation, said that migrant workers are often concerned about fair wages and working conditions when travelling to work in another country, instead of the issues of insurance, workplace accidents, and occupational diseases. Noticeably, female migrant workers make up a large proportion of the most unstable and low-paid jobs.

He stressed the need for countries to promptly take measures to change the perception and ensure the rights of migrant workers, with the signing of bilateral and multilateral agreements between countries on social insurance being a prerequisite.

It can be seen that the signing of agreements on social security brings great benefits for migrant workers. However, experts said that in order to sign these agreements, there are many obstacles and challenges which need to be overcome. Agreements often take a lot of time to be finalised and signed, especially as some countries do not find common ground. Asia in general and ASEAN in particular have many different systems and models on social security. In addition, in many countries, the social security system is not complete and has low coverage, leading to a lack of resources or experience in protecting the rights of migrant workers.

Dinh Duy Hung, deputy head of the Vietnam Social Insurance’s collection department, stated that overseas Vietnamese workers often belong to the group of voluntary social insurance participants. The Vietnamese Party and State give special care to the extension of social insurance and health insurance coverage for Vietnamese workers abroad, he said, noting that difficulties and challenges still remain, especially due to the limited economic conditions.

A delegate from Indonesia raises an issue at the discussion. (Photo: NDO)

According to Hung, in the trend of labour migration, Vietnam currently has 500,000 people working overseas, and every year this number increases by an additional hundreds of thousands of people. However, only about 6,000 people in this group participate in social insurance.

To ensure social security for migrant workers, experts recommended that countries quickly sign bilateral and multilateral agreements on the protection of migrant workers, eliminating regulations on nationality discrimination, abiding by international principles of migrant workers, and assisting migrant workers in approaching the social security policies of their destination countries.

Jens Schremmer, chief of the Office of the International Social Security Association (ISSA) Secretary General, attached importance to statistical and communication work, as well as the designing of policies in a more attractive fashion with simpler and more convenient access, so that migrant workers can easily participate in and benefit from them.

It can be seen that labour migration is currently a hot global trend. Migrant workers are also contributing significantly to the development of each country and territory. The development of social security policies for migrant workers is an urgent and legitimate requirement that can be achieved through bilateral and multilateral social security agreements, as well as through the efforts of each country.