Labour migration management in the spotlight |05 July 2022
Currently 25% of the workforce in Seychelles are migrant workers and every year approximately US $50 million leave the country.
These figures were shared during a workshop on ‘Labour Migration Management’ (LMM) in Seychelles held yesterday at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Hotel.
The three-day workshop has been organised by the International Organisation for Migrant workers in collaboration with the employment department.
The objective of the LMM workshop is to enhance the government’s capacity and that of other relevant stakeholders engaged in labour migration management to systemically manage and regulate labour migration in Seychelles.
It will also provide an opportunity to review the current challenges and opportunities for labour migration and mobility in the country, reach consensus and make conclusions and recommendations on strategies and programmes on labour migration in Seychelles to further contribute to sustainable development.
The principal secretary for employment, Jules Baker, noted at the very beginning that Seychelles, as a small island state, is heavily reliant on foreign labour to meet the needs of our growing economy.
He explained that in October 2019, the government of Seychelles launched the National Labour Migration Policy and in 2020 its corresponding Action Plan to ensure that necessary actions are taken in the areas of governance, fair recruitment and protection of migrant workers.
“In 2021, the government reviewed its policies in an effort to boost the economy. The private sector, badly hit by the pandemic, was now in a better position to resume its activities. With these dynamic changes, the employment department recorded the highest number of applications for recruitment of migrant workers. The employment department received applications for non-Seychellois employment for a total of 17,061 positions and 15,384 Gainful Occupational Permits (GOP) were issued by the Immigration Division,” shared Mr Baker.
He, however, stated that although the government acknowledges the immense contributions of foreign workers in the country, these numbers also signify the increasing labour migration management challenges.
“Migrant workers face a number of precarious and challenging situations, especially during the recruitment process. It is therefore, our responsibility to ensure protection and adequate wellbeing to these workers, both before, during and after the recruitment process. The government has a key role to play in enacting appropriate legislation and advocating good management practices for the benefit of all,” said PS Baker.
PS Baker said that this workshop will help the participants in exploring international best practices and at the same time reflect on our own challenges.
Samia Ally, welfare officer in the Ministry of Employment, stated that the purpose of the workshop is to give them some insight on how to manage the migrant workers currently in the country.
Commenting on Mr Baker’s previous statement regarding the remission of fifty million dollars, she noted that a localisation system has been put in place to help ensure that Seychellois workers are considered a priority when being hired for job positions.
“We have about 25% of migrant workers who are in employment,” Ms Ally added.
She went on to explain that the sectors they are employed in vary; such as agriculture, tourism, trade, wholesale and retail, and construction. Her emphasis was on construction as one of the major sectors hiring migrant workers.
She also mentioned that the cause of such high numbers of migrant workers is due to a lack of supply of qualified workers to meet the demands.
Increased labour migration means increased vulnerabilities and risks, including human trafficking, forced labour, migrant smuggling and exploitation. It also requires the need to give adequate heed to key issues such as migrant health and wellbeing, social security protection, regional labour mobility and migration data management. The legal and policy framework has gradually been strengthened and measures have been introduced to enable the economy to live up to the challenges associated with increased labour migration. Yet, additional steps and measures are required to make labour migration safe, orderly, dignified and humane.
There is increased emphasis on using labour migration to pursue development in Seychelles. This entails better governance of labour migration and social dialogue, and approaches to specific challenges such as social security coverage and portability, recognition of qualifications and skills, non-discrimination and equality of treatment (including proper working conditions) and protection of migrant workers.
IOM and the government of Seychelles have been collaborating on several initiatives, over the last few years, to maximise the potential of labour migration for socio-economic development.
The Seychelles National Labour Migration Policy (NLMP) has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders in 2019, to provide a coherent and responsive framework for regulating labour migration at national level, balancing labour supply and demand, and ensuring decent and productive work for all workers.
The policy is expected to contribute to sustainable development in Seychelles by enhancing the benefits of labour migration and minimising its negative impacts. The government of Seychelles is currently discussing with key partners to mobilise resources and implement the NLMP.
IOM supported the organisation of several activities in 2019 in Seychelles when the NLMP was being finalised. These included the organisation of an awareness workshop with the private sector and a session with government officials.
Through the projects ‘Strengthening IOM’s capacity to support policies towards facilitating orderly, safe and regular migration at the national and regional level in Southern Africa’ and the EU-funded Southern Africa Migration Management on improving the management of migration in the region, IOM will work with the government of Seychelles to put in place rights-based legal and efficient channels of labour migration and mobility (including appropriate protection measures for migrant workers) through capacity building and technical assistance. The recent recommendations on labour migration made by the SADC ministers for Labour in the margins of the 2021 Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa (MIDSA) to identify and address the systemic weaknesses, capacity gaps and needs required by sectoral partners to better align and leverage our mutual commitments towards integration and labour mobility are indeed relevant.
It is against this backdrop that IOM is supporting the government of Seychelles for the organisation of a Labour Migration Management (LMM) workshop. The workshop will be part of the technical support that IOM intends to provide to the government of Seychelles for the operationalisation of the NLMP as well as for the effective migration management.
Expected outcomes of the workshop
The expected outcomes of the workshop are: Increased knowledge and capacity of the participants to respond to labour migration and labour mobility issues, including diaspora engagement and the protection of migrant workers in Seychelles; Strengthened capacity of government officials in Seychelles to operationalise the National Labour Migration Policy and Identification of key recommendations on programmes to improve the governance and management of labour migration in Seychelles.
The workshop has brought together between 20 and 25 participants from the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs, the department of Immigration, the department of Foreign Affairs, the National Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the private sector, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders working on labour migration issues.
Vidya Gappy and Sylia Ah-Time