amfori Calls for Collaboration on Improving Migrant Workers’ Rights and Resolving Modern Slavery at the UNSW ASEAN Conference 2021



On 1 October, amfori Director APAC, Joyce Chau, shared insights with other international experts on “Protecting Migrants and Workers from Exploitation” at the UNSW ASEAN Conference 2021. This online event provided a platform for global experts and multi-stakeholders to explore how ASEAN can promote its vision of an economic, sociocultural, and political community despite internal political and pandemic complications.

During the panel discussion themed Protecting Migrants and Workers from Exploitation, Joyce remarked that:

  • amfori values the development of ASEAN especially on the issues of migrant rights and modern slavery, given the fact that 6 out of 10 ASEAN member states are amfori’s key sourcing countries where suppliers have been well connected with amfori’s members
  • Migrant workers are by nature in a less favourable position given that the majority of them leave their own countries for survival or in search of better opportunities, hence they would accept less remuneration in order to remain competitive, while on the demand side, the country of destination imports migrant workers to resolve labour shortages and fill up unwanted jobs locally by commonly paying less than local rate. Migrants who are supposed to be an asset to the country of destination to build a better economy have become vulnerable especially the less or uneducated ones. In recent decades, we have seen enhancement on regulatory frameworks in the region but there is certainly room for closer coordination and alignment to identify, remediate and prevent the risks of abuse and lift the barriers for improvement
  • On the other hand, the definition, and social requirements, such as remuneration and working environment, are evolving quickly while businesses especially SMEs lack resources to comply. Apart from regulations and policies, there is also a need to enhance stakeholder engagement, including that with recruitment agencies for outbound and inbound migrants to tackle labour and migrants’ abuse.

Going forward, more collaboration is needed between all stakeholders, including governments, businesses and CSOs to enhance coordination on legal enforcement and facilitate knowledge transfer with an aim of further resolving the issues linked to modern slavery and migrant rights’ abuse.

amfori is committed to working with its members and stakeholders to support suppliers in ASEAN by providing professional trainings and consultations with its expertise, as it has always been.

In addition to amfori’s sharing, experts from ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Unchained Solutions and UNSW also presented their views on how stakeholders should work together to improve rights and resolve the issue of modern slavery in ASEAN.

Recording of the panel discussion can be viewed here

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Further Readings:

amfori Unleash Opportunity: Principles and Guidelines of the Repayment of Recruitment Fees

amfori Extends Partnership with International Organisation for Migration

amfori Joins Forces on Potential EU-Thailand Agreement

amfori Discusses Sustainable FTAs in ASEAN countries