To mark  International Migrants Day, trade unions are calling for continued humanitarian action to save migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Italian Government has announced it will end its ‘Mare Nostrum’ search and rescue operation in the absence of support from the EU and other member states. It is being ‘replaced’ by the EU Frontex Agency’s ‘Triton’ programme which is primarily concerned with border control.  

‘Mare Nostrum’ found and saved more than 100.000 migrants at sea.

 “Frontex says that saving lives is a priority, but it does not have a mandate for search and rescue” said ETUC Confederal Secretary Luca Visentini “So the situation is less than clear.”

What is clear is that the EU has a humanitarian duty to save the lives of desperate people who are risking all to get into the EU in order to escape war and poverty.”

He added “Now is the change to reconsider the EU rules which require asylum seekers to seek  asylum in the country they arrive in. Given the huge numbers of people crossing the Mediterranean to get to the EU there is an obvious need for a fairer arrangement.”

On International Migrants Day the European trade union movementalso stresses  its strong opposition to  racism and discrimination against migrants.

With 6 million members of migrant origin  the trade unions are  by far the largest membership-based movement representing migrants.

Trade unionism has a major role to play in integrating migrant workers – by ensuring equal pay and conditions for all through collective agreements, and thereby avoiding exploitation and social dumping. 

The ETUC and national unions commitment to working with migrants is demonstrated by setting up UnionMigrantNet -  the largest European network of contact points for migrants.