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Global Unions Denounce Irresponsibility on Global Compact on Migration

The global trade union movement has criticised 13 governments that have confirmed that they will not sign the historic Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). Rather than contribute to resolving the pressing issues connected with migration and moving towards coherence and global governance of migration, they have preferred to use the Compact as an opportunity to appeal to nationalist and extremist anti-migrant sentiment.

The Council of Global Unions (CGU)[1], grouping Global Unions representing sectoral and professional unions and trade union national centres, in a statement, maintains that as migration is, by its nature, a cross-border phenomenon, it requires cross-border cooperation.

The CGU points out that, “Migration is not a crisis. It is the governance of migration that has become a crisis”. It also argues that an important way to reduce the pressure of migration is to address the reasons that force people to leave their homelands. These include extreme poverty, wars and other violent conflicts, and the impact of global warming. Both migration and its causes require coordinated global action.

Speaking to the intergovernmental conference that adopted the Global Compact on Migration, Education International Senior Coordinator Dennis Sinyolo said, “Now more than ever before, the international community must come together to deal with the scourge of xenophobia and racism, and to make our societies, workplaces, schools and, and indeed all institutions and services truly inclusive and welcoming to migrants and refugees. After all, there is no race but the human race; not your country and our country, but our planet together.”   

The countries that have confirmed their refusal to sign the pact are: Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, and the United States. In many countries where leaders have taken the ”risk” of being responsible, they are being attacked by the Extreme Right and nationalist populists based on misinformation and disinformation.

The Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, in his opening remarks on 10 December to the gathering in Marrakesh, Morocco to approve the Compact and send it to the UN General Assembly denounced the distortion of the contents and purposes of the Compact. He spoke of several myths, including the idea that the Compact, which is not a treaty,  would undermine national sovereignty.

Guterres explained that, “the Compact only reaffirms that migrants should enjoy human rights, and independently of their status.” He added, “it would be ironic if, on the day we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we would consider that migrants are to be excluded from the scope of the Declaration.”

After arguing that the Compact is a valuable framework for further international cooperation on migration, the Secretary-General concluded, “Let’s work together for a safer, less fearful and more prosperous future both for our own societies and for the world’s migrants. That means for us all.”

Education International General Secretary David Edwards, referring to the CGU statement,  stated, “we join in asking member organisations to urge governments that have rejected the Compact to reconsider their positions, support the Compact, and participate in its follow-up.”

Edwards also argued that, “as education trade unionists, we need to defend the decision of those governments that signed the Compact against campaigns of lies and distortions designed to create fear of and hostility towards migrants for short-term political ends. The generation of hatred of  migrants is the cutting edge of the authoritarian assault on our democracies”.

[1]The Council of Global Unions consists of the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI), Education International (EI), IndustriALL Global Union, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Arts and Entertainment Alliance (IAEA), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), Public Services International (PSI), Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), and UNI Global Union. Together, they represent over 300 million workers.


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