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PSI representatives attended the hearings and called to strengthen the gender and rights based approach to migration and development and defending quality public services for all, particularly in a time of crisis where xenophobia and discrimination against migrants is of serious concern. PSI affiliates from the Philippines (PSLINK), USA (AFT), Kenya (KLGWU), Ghana (HSWU) and Brazil (FETAM/CUT) formed the delegation of PSI activists.
Ambet Yuson, Chair of the Council of Global Unions Working Group on Migration and General Secretary of the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI), spoke on behalf of the trade union movement in the opening panel of the hearings. In his opening speech, Yuson highlighted how international migration today is about the search for decent work, with new waves of migration also starting even in developed economies as a result of the economic crisis.
“Austerity measures have led to loss of jobs and reduction of essential public services, which are critical safety nets in times of crisis. Joblessness and poverty are spreading rapidly, leaving people with no choice but to seek jobs elsewhere,” says Yuson. He referred to a “new phenomenon of a “public sector working poor” that is spreading across Europe, marked with a wave of out-migration among public sector workers, among them doctors, nurses, and teachers, moving towards the northern countries in search of work.
The global unions strongly emphasised the need for a normative framework on the rights-based approach on migration and development – and called for the leadership of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the area of labour migration and for the UN Agencies within the Global Migration Group, a cooperation among international agencies, to promote the gender and rights based approach in the global governance of migration.
The hearings were attended by around 300 civil society representatives, with the President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Vuk Jeremić and the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Jan Eliasson, keynoting the event. Previous to the hearings, trade union delegates participated in the preparatory meetings with migrant civil society organisations, including a meeting with grassroots-based migrant organisations in the US to prepare for the outside actions during the UN High Level Dialogue in October.