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Workshop on Temporary Migrant Workers Programs




countries. Contributions by Ministries of Labor or similar bodies, Ministries of Health, and relevant 

authorities are required in order to regulate and allow access to social security, among other things. 

The relevance of monitoring and inspection actions carried out by Ministries or Secretariats 

of Labor in receiving countries. An action which should be implemented by Ministries or Secretariats 

of Labor in the sphere of protection of labor rights is labor inspection. Labor inspection actions, 

precisely, allow identifying noncompliance with labor legislation upon request of the ex-officio or 

interested party. In practice, limitations to carry out these tasks are found in the relevant institutions. 

This is of particular concern since a chance is lost to identify cases of noncompliance with labor 

legislation when this occurs, which – moreover – happens quite frequently. In addition, the 

implementation of relevant corrective measures is restricted.  

The task of inspection is undoubtedly a fundamental  action in the protection of the labor 

rights not only of migrant workers but of workers in general. In essence, inspection has three 

dimensions:  dissuasive – tries to persuade employers before initiating legal action; educational – 

informs about appropriate ways to comply with labor legislation; and indicative – guides actions. The 

educational dimension is particularly relevant because it leads to awareness-raising regarding respect 

for labor rights. In the long term, this prevents costly processes (administrative or judicial), allows 

workers to become more rooted in their workplace, stimulates an increase in productivity, and 

establishes a culture of mutual respect between workers and employers. It should be noted that within 

the context of the current economic crisis, labor rights – not only of migrant seasonal or temporary 

workers but of workers in general – are most probably one of the aspects that will suffer the most. 

Access of temporary workers to labor justice. An aspect that is not often discussed has to do 

with the duration of ordinary labor trials, that is, the duration of a process from the moment when a 

denouncement is received until the moment when a verdict is issued. While differences in the duration of 

these trials can be observed in each member country of the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), 

general consent exists regarding the undue prolongation of labor trials. The duration of the trials and – in 

many cases – lack of knowledge regarding the steps to be followed, keep migrant workers from claiming 

their labor rights. From an ethical perspective, the question regarding how much temporary migrant 

workers lose when they renounce their labor rights should be asked together with the question about how 

much employers gain when they do not comply with some labor rights. 

C. Horizons and Possibilities 

Some aspects that should be emphasized 

In theory, Temporary Migrant Worker Programs (TMWPs) should be based on an empirical 

ascertainment of a deficit of workers in a given country. This ascertainment – which is nothing more 

nor less than the existence of relevant studies – allows establishing how many workers are required, 

for which types of employment, and in which locations. This would involve coordinated action 

between official authorities, entrepreneurs (entrepreneurs’ associations), academia, and civil society. 

TMWPs can be an option to regulate the presence of workers in a given country and eliminate 

intermediaries such as contractors or labor brokers. It has been shown that TMWPs can help regulate 

the movement of workers within a country or between countries. 

The possible signing of contracts (in some cases, verbal employment contracts are as binding 

as written contracts) allows establishing a framework of duties and rights of workers for the activities 

that they engage in. 

Given that the contingents of workers are relatively small and can be easily located 

geographically, actions to inspect labor, health, housing, safety, and recreation conditions should be 

carried out on a regular basis; that is, they can be performed frequently. 

Regional Conference on Migration




Some Limitations 

As noted above, significant difficulties exist in Ministries or Secretariats of Labor which 

hinder the inspection of employment centers. This limits the possibility of identifying noncompliance 

with labor legislation with the aim of taking relevant corrective measures. 

•  Limited access to labor justice – due to lack of knowledge of the established processes or 

lack of motivation as a result of excessive delays of trials in labor courts – can promote 

noncompliance with labor rights. Examples of this would be the non-fulfillment of 

employment contracts, payment of salaries below the agreed amounts, and charging 

exorbitant amounts for transportation, accommodation, and food. 

•  The risk of workers becoming victims of trafficking has been identified under the TMWP 


•  Little willingness by workers to denounce noncompliance with the labor conditions under 

which they have been hired. This fear bears relation to the possibility that they will not be 

hired again. 

•  Workers’ lack of knowledge of the labor legislation in the foreign countries where they 

are working. 

•  Insufficient participation in the design of TMWPs by academics and civil society 


The Regional Network for Civil Organizations on Migration (RNCOM) wishes to present the 

following proposal:  

About State actions 

a.  To promote the establishment of inter-institutional mechanisms with various actors 

(governments, civil society, private sector, international organizations, academia) to 

design or update TMWPs; 

b.  To incorporate procedures for appropriate planning, monitoring, evaluation, and follow-

up of TMWPs; 

c.  For countries receiving temporary workers, to periodically and proactively carry out 

inspection visits to verify compliance with labor rights in employment centers; 

d.  For sending countries, capacity building to monitor and review the labor conditions of 

temporary migrant workers; 

e.  To promote mechanisms that ensure an effective access to labor justice by the workers 

included in TMWPs; 

f.  To establish procedures to regulate private actions to hire migrant workers; 

g.  In designing TMWPs, to consider mechanisms that allow applying for a different 

migration status and family reunification; 

h.  To strengthen internal regulatory frameworks through signing and ratification of and 

adhesion to various basic agreements of the International Labor Organization (Forced 

Labor – 105, Syndical Freedom – 87, Discrimination – 111, Child Labor – 182, and 

Agreements 97 and 143 relating to migrant workers), in addition to the Convention on the 

Protection of the Rights of All Workers and Members of their Families. 

Workshop on Temporary Migrant Workers Programs




Possible Contributions by Civil Society in this Process. 

a.  To participate in inter-institutional processes to design and update TMWPs; 

b.  To promote actions to assess the impact of TMWPs, with an emphasis on compliance 

with the rights of temporary migrant workers and access to labor justice by workers. At 

the same time, to help identify best practices which allow improving the conditions of 

temporary migrant workers (for example, access to labor justice and legal assistance 


c.  To help disseminate information about labor procedures and the rights of migrant workers. 


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