GENEVA (ILO News) - The International Labour Office (ILO), with the support of the European Union, today launched a new programme designed to tackle on the job discrimination that in some countries afflicts up to a third of migrant workers.
The new project will also seek ways of helping such migrant workers, who number some 27.5 million in Europe, integrate into the societies where they work.
The project "Promoting Equality in Diversity: Integration in Europe" is being implemented in cooperation with ILO tripartite partners and has the financial support of the European Union (EU). The project will focus on challenges posed by discrimination and a lack of integration of immigrants and their descendants.
ILO projections suggest that, if corrective measures are not taken to change declining workforce participation rates in Europe that are currently fueled by negative demographic trends, then the resulting labour shortage could result in a reduction in per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to only 78 per cent of the expected level for 2050.
According to ILO data, of the 175 million migrants in the world, 56 million live in Europe. Among them, 27.5 million migrants are economically active in European countries, representing 4 per cent of the region's workforce. The proportion of foreigners in the workforce is higher in some countries, reaching up to 25 per cent in Luxembourg and Switzerland.
"In the European countries where ILO research has already been conducted on this issue, net-discrimination rates of 35 per cent among the migrant workforce are commonly found", said Patrick Taran of the ILO's International Migrant Program and project coordinator.
"Available evidence indicates that new comers rejuvenate populations and stimulate growth without inflation. However, negative perceptions of immigration in receiving countries arise out of a concern at its presumed effects on unemployment, wage rates and social security", Mr. Taran said.
Negative perceptions "may create instabilities in host societies", he added. "Discrimination and social exclusion seriously diminish productivity, foster social conflict, and reinforce ghettoisation of significant groups of the population."
The new ILO project will support community engagement throughout EU member countries, combating discrimination against immigrants and facilitating integration by disseminating effective practice, identifying indicators of integration, developing evaluation tools, and convening social partner networking.
One of the outcomes of the 18 months project launched this Friday will be a database with profiles of successful practices in managing the integration of migrants throughout Europe. The ILO already has compiled a database of nearly 100 experiences that can inspire further initiatives to promote the integration of migrants in the world of work, and the goal is to include 300 profiles on an interactive website.
The ILO will provide the project with a typology of 45 anti-discrimination and integration measures.
Business and employer organizations, trade unions, public authorities, civil society, academic institutions, media, and migrant and minority community organizations are target groups for the new project.
In its Communication on Immigration, Integration and Employment of June 2003, the European Commission considered integration to the labour market a key element for the EU integration policy. The European employment guidelines now require member States to implement measures and set targets to ensure the integration into the labour market of migrant workers, to reduce the unemployment gap with nationals, and to tackle more effectively the transformation of undeclared work into legal employment.
The ILO, involved in labour migration concerns since its founding in 1919, adopted at this year's 92nd International Labour Conference a new plan of action designed to ensure that migrant workers are covered by the provisions of international labour standards, while benefiting from applicable national labour and social laws.
The Plan of Action adopted by government, employer and workers delegates at the ILO Conference calls for the development of a non binding multilateral framework for a rights based approach to labour migration and the establishment of an ILO dialogue on migration in partnership with international and multilateral organizations.
Notes for journalists:
ILO partners in the project "Promoting Equality in Diversity: Integration in Europe" include: Centre for Social Innovation, Austria; Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME), Brussels; Europa-Kontact, Berlin; International and European Forum on Migration Research (FIERI) Turin, Italy; Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC); and Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). The ILO International Migration Program in Geneva provides overall coordination and management as well as technical support.
To contact the International Migration Program of the ILO and to consult the database with profiles of successful practices please visit their website at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +4122/799-6667