ETUC Statement for International Migrants Day

To mark International Migrants Day on 18 December, ETUC honours and thanks all workers, migrant and local, who continue to risk their lives to provide essential services and keep vital sections of the economy going through the COVID19 pandemic.

13% of key workers in essential jobs in the EU are migrants. Up to 1/3 domestic and care workers, & labourers in construction & mining, all key workers, are foreign born.

We owe a debt of thanks to all those women and men, migrant and local, who are essential workers. Respect to all migrant and local workers, who have worked throughout the pandemic in solidarity with each other and to the benefit of us all.

The ETUC stands for the rights of all migrants, including asylum seekers, refugees, and undocumented ones. Trade unions fight for all migrant workers, for decent pay, for better working conditions, for the best possible protection from coronavirus, for free access to a vaccine.

On this day ETUC also remembers all migrants who died trying to get to Europe to escape conflict and extreme poverty. In 2020, almost 1000 people are known to have died in the Mediterranean, and the real number is estimated to be higher. There have also been more than 400 deaths in the Atlantic (between Africa and the Canary Islands), plus further deaths in the English Channel.

We remember all migrants stuck in overcrowded camps, in Libya, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain & elsewhere wanting to start a new life and work in Europe. The camps provide squalid living conditions and a severe lack of adequate sanitation or hygiene facilities, even amid the heightened health risks due to Covid-19 and violate the fundamental rights of migrants. We remember the struggle of undocumented migrants living and working in our societies without access to health care and other basic rights. We express our solidarity with migrants, including children, living in camps and undocumented workers.

We work with migrants for integration into society and into employment, to give migrants the opportunity to use all their abilities in their new country.

Migration is a human story, and call for human decency and respect, not the building of walls and not abandoning people to drown at sea.

The ETUC urges all EU Member States and European Institutions to

  • Ensure, with the involvement of employers and trade unions, that migrant workers, receive equal treatment in employment, including equal pay and working conditions
  • Develop pathways for labour migration to enter Europe across skills levels and sectors
  • Significantly increase safe and regular channels for asylum seekers to enter the EU through a common European asylum system with sufficiently staffed and trained public services for asylum, especially in the EU border member states
  • Ensure all dangerous and unsanitary camps are dismantled, decent conditions and treatment in all camps, and speedy processes to relocate refugees throughout the EU and grant them the right to work and earn their living
  • Regularise those with insecure or irregular status to reduce vulnerability, labour exploitation and social exclusion of undocumented workers ensuring their full equal treatment, decent working conditions and access to public healthcare.