Countries of origin can do a great deal to ensure that their workers are prepared for migration — to take full advantage of the opportunities available, and protect themselves from potential abuses.
Even before they leave home, migrant workers are at risk of exploitation. Those who are traveling for the first time may lack accurate information about the jobs available and the working and living
conditions they are likely to encounter overseas. And they will be faced with many complex administrative processes that are hard to understand.
In principle they should be able to turn for help to reputable recruitment agencies. Unfortunately, they may also encounter unscrupulous or fraudulent agencies or those controlled by organized
crime. As a result migrants are frequently overcharged, whether for administration or for job placements. In the most serious cases they may find themselves confined to ‘recruitment centres’. At greatest danger are vulnerable women and children who risk being trafficked.
To address these and other problems Asian countries of origin have been taking steps to protect their migrant workers. These include: applying
exit controls, curbing abuses in recruitment, setting standards for employment contracts, providing welfare
services for migrants, posting labour attachés abroad and cooperating with countries of
The first line of defence for labour-sending countries is exit controls. Generally the restrictions concern the emigration of young women. Pakistan, Bangladesh,
India, Indonesia and the Philippines all have minimum age limits for women workers going abroad
for employment. And in the past some countries have prohibited workers from going to specific destinations where migrants have previously experienced abuses.
What the ILO can offer
The ILO can offer countries of origin advice on many aspects of labour migration, including training on labour policy and management. Usually we work with the Ministry of Labour or with a ministry that has been created for overseas employment — as well as with employers, trade unions and migrant workers organizations.
Among other things, we can assist countries in their efforts to integrate labour migration issues with other key economic and social concerns, including employment, national and local economic development, education and skills development, and gender empowerment